Rolling With It

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It’s the last week in our rental, and since we’ve gotten here ZMP’s going-to-bed pattern has gotten worse.  Back at Chorizo House she was actually “going down” with very little trouble; Mike and I would take her upstairs, we’d sing a little song and read her a story, she’d cry a little bit, and then she’d be asleep.

I don’t know if it’s the rental or teething or the fact that she’s crawling and sitting up and just so excited to be mobile, but lately getting ZMP to bed has been a huge struggle.  A two hour struggle, in fact.  We put her down, and she screams and cries and is completely inconsolable unless I’m nursing her or Mike’s holding her.  And because we’re in a duplex, we can’t let her cry; it’s not fair to the people trying to get sleep, one room over.

So last night Mike had to run an errand, and I was solo putting her to bed.  At around 8 PM I took her into the walk-in closet that is (temporarily) her bedroom, and I set her down to nurse.  Which she did for about a minute, then she rolled off and grinned at me, and started to charge around the room.

(I will quickly say: this is not a small closet.  It fits a dresser, a crib mattress, a box of clothes, two adults, and a baby with no issues.  I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m crammed into a 2′ x 4′ space, because: no.)

So I reclined on her mattress as ZMP crawled and cavorted, going to the entry (across which we have a baby gate), then coming back.  Getting onto the mattress is an effort for her; she’s successful two out of three shots, and when she was she’d crawl over to me, nurse briefly, then crawl off again.  And that was when I realized: ah ha.  This is a chance to spend time with my daughter.

Let’s look at it this way: she’s not tired.  She’s not ready to sleep.  She hasn’t seen me all day.  I may want her to go to bed at 8 PM, but she clearly doesn’t, and trying to force her just leads to tears and wearily trying to get a baby to bed for the next hour.  So why not let her play in this soft, safe space?

I think there’s something to the “she hasn’t seem me all day” line of thinking.  Call me crazy, but I think my baby misses me as much as I miss her, and when I put her down in that closet and sat with her, she decided to show me what she can do.  She can go here!  She can go there!  She can get this book and this cloth block!  And then she comes back to nurse, but only briefly, before she heads off to show me some more.

I think I’ve been too focused on “baby must be in bed by X time because the books say so”.  I really try to only take the books with a grain of salt, but that one, for some reason, stuck.  I’d forgotten she might want to spend just as much time with me as I wish I could be spending with her.

So tonight, at around 8 PM, I’ll take my daughter to her “room”, and I’ll play with her for an hour or less, and then at some point I’ll say, “It’s time for bed now.”  Because she’s still a baby, and she still needs structure.

I think I need to give her that chance, though, to be with me.  I think that’s what she wants.

of faithlessness and ragù

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I haven’t cooked — really cooked — in a long, long while.

A few weeks ago, we decided we had to move very quickly to avoid a steep (five figures) leaseback.  This was an unexpected kink in our home sale, and needless to say a story in and of itself, but what it comes down to is this: three days after getting back from a long weekend trip to Austin (which was fantastic), we packed up all our stuff, crammed it into a pair of 16′ SAMs (like PODs, only they’re SAMs), and moved into a rental.  Fun!

So now our new old home is being renovated, our old new home is no longer ours, and we are in limbo in someone’s vacation home…but at least the kitchen is sweet!

I got to cook today.  Really cook.  I got to play with a sauce technique I’d been wanting to try: take a tough cut of meat, chop it fine, brown it with aromatics (in this case, minced — yes, minced — onions and carrots and spices), and cook in a generous amount of gelatinous homemade stock.  Let it boil down, down, down until it bubbles like syrup and coats a spoon.  Then keep repeating until the meat is tender and melting.

What you get is…ragù.  The real deal.  Not the commercial sugar paste in a jar, but a thick, food-cloaking, hearty affair you only need a little of to make all right with the world.

Of course, I ruined it with too many strained tomatoes…but next time, I shall have faith in the ragù and see where it leads me.  I suspect to greatness.  Lynne adds cream to hers, right at the end.  I expect this would have been heavenly.

I’m also being a bit harsh when I say “ruined it”.  I did wind up with a very pleasant meat sauce.  My dinner guests enjoyed what they ate, and I did, too.  It is a sauce I am very familiar with; I could likely cook it in my sleep with one arm tied behind my back.  It is an old friend, a pleasant dinner companion…but the time has come.  I would like to make another sauce, now.

Next time, my darlings.  Possibly even next weekend.