The calendar tells me that it has been more than one month since I was last here, which feels both much shorter and much longer than the reality (as always seems to be the case). The biggest event of the last month for us, though, is definitely this: We are now officially the proud parents of a bona fide, honest-to-goodness toddling toddler. Our little man can walk! A few weekends ago, B3 graduated from his half-lunging, half-toppling three-step walk to teetering halfway across the room on his own, and in the last few days he’s been making his way around the entire apartment–usually with both fists up, his belly stuck out, eyes opened as wide as they will go, and mouth open in a grin like a manic puppy. It is the craziest thing. If someone could bottle up the giddiness you get from looking up to see your previously quadripedaling baby suddenly wobbling towards you on his two feet, no one would ever have a bad day again.
We are in the midst of a thoroughly January state of affairs: We got home on New Year’s Eve from our trip to see B2’s parents in Honolulu, where I was lazier, more relaxed, and more rested than a parent with a toddler has any right to be (God bless grandmas), and in the midst of our post-Hawaii gloom, were all promptly felled by the Great California Flu of 2018. Well, more accurately, I was felled by the Great California Flu of 2018, B2 was mildly sick, and B3 was sick for exactly one night before bouncing back to his same exuberant self, charging around the house while casting me mystified looks and wondering why his mom was being such a baby.
We are now solidly into the magical stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that no-holds-barred span of weeks that I typically use to indulge all of my wildest cookie and hot cocoa and cinnamon roll whims, and yet, much to my dismay, I’ve spent most of it so far thinking about, not chocolate or candy canes or marshmallows, but vegetables. In particular, these leafy greens. I am as surprised as you are.
My commute here in LA is almost the same as it was in New York, 40 minutes give or take. The only difference is that I sit my butt in a little Corolla instead of the blue-benched 4/5, and so I can no longer do either of the two things I used to do on my commutes in New York — sleep, or read, but mostly sleep — because I would die. For exactly 3 days I filled this void in my travels to-and-fro with music from my own playlists, before I got tired of my apparently very limited musical taste, and then for a few more weeks it was music on the radio, before I got tired of their slightly less limited ones. So now I’m at a happy medium of NPR (I have officially become my dad) and the wonderful world of podcasts.
With work picking up again after a slow start coming back from maternity leave, this project, and our ever-growing obsession, I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would like to make or share recipes from the wealth of stellar cookbooks that have come out this spring. There are so many! But I’ll get there. For now, I’m starting with an impossibly clever recipe I made awhile back from Alexandra Stafford’s Bread Toast Crumbs. At the heart of the book is a recipe for peasant bread you might know of already (it has over 3,000 comments on her original post!) but its genius is even greater because from there she has about a million (more precisely 135) more creative things to do with the bread or ways to tweak the recipe.
Judging from the calendar, we are in the thick of picnic season, or for me, toss-everything-with-mayonnaise-and-maybe-eat-it-at-a-picnic-but-probably-just-straight-from-the-fridge season. My last post notwithstanding, I almost didn’t realize it; after years in New York, where I spent the first third-to-half of each year in an intense and unceasing scrutiny of the weather for any sign of warmth, California has lulled me into a kind of constant seasonal befuddlement, where I never know what season it is but I just know that it is giddily, euphorically not cold.
Last weekend we took our first big trip with B3 in tow, up to Berkeley for my brother’s graduation. It wasn’t until we were on our way back, winding our way through the mountains on the last stretch of the I-5, that I realized how much Los Angeles has started to feel like home. This little ham can probably take most of the credit for that (isn’t that how the saying goes? “Home is where the diaper pail is”?) but whatever the reason, sometime over the past year this sprawling city has stopped feeling foreign and unusual, with its bleached asphalt and vast robin’s-egg skies, and started feeling familiar. That said, after
5 ½ 7 hours of driving on the two lanes of the I-5 amidst weaving cars and semi-trucks that I swear are bigger here than elsewhere (and, by turn, feeding a 6-month-old in Jack-in-the-Box parking lots along the way), I suspect conquering that real-life edition of Toad’s Turnpike will make any destination feel a little more like home.
As of a couple of weeks ago, I’m officially back at work. Unlike his mama, B3 thought the transition was a total breeze — he sees me off to work every morning with such blasé cheerfulness that I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t be at least a teensy offended. (He is, however, in a war of attrition with his Public Enemy No. 1, The Bottle, so there is at least one part of me that he misses. Or, more accurately, two parts.)
Ever since I found their story a few years ago, I’ve been awed by Sonja and Alex’s journey to parenthood. Sonja’s poignant, thoughtful words and their constant light throughout their experience have been humbling and inspiring; it gives a whole new perspective to this stage of life that B2 and I have been figuring out our way around lately, and reminds me that every parent has a different, incalculable strength. The best news is that, as of a few months ago, they now have the most beautiful baby boy! The joy and happiness that surrounds Larson is palpable in every photo they’ve shared (not to mention he has the sweetest blue eyes I’ve ever seen), and I’m so glad that a few wonderful bloggers have put together a celebration to honor their perfect new addition. The theme of the fête, inspired by Sonja and Alex’s fresh and vibrant blog A Couple Cooks, was “healthy snacks.” Given that the title of this post starts with “butter,” I think I’ve shown my ability to follow directions is dubious. But I do find this dish perfect in every regard for the adventure that is new parenthood — easy, pantry-friendly, distraction-friendly. And most importantly, delicious.
I had it built up in my head that taking B3 out to an actual, sit-down, non-Jack-in-the-Box-drive-through meal was going to be an endeavor that involved at least one meltdown and/or leaving before the food actually came. But while our friends were here we ended up going out to eat not one, not two, but three nice, awesome, meltdown-free times. Three! And sight-seeing! Luke either slept or stared at everything. In retrospect, I’m not sure if he was being a good baby or just freaked out by all the hubbub (and we had a very tired bub on our hands later that evening) but it was a revelation anyway.