November 26, 2014

Eat-Your-Feelings Soup

Lately, I've been having a lot of feelings.  Like, on the level of a pregnant woman watching holiday commercials (not pregnant though).  I'm anxious about the impending dark winter, frustrated with Aiden's sleeping difficulties, stressed at work while being a (temporary) single mom, and a few other things (not to bring the mood down).  So. Many. Feelings.  And I'm eating them all.

You might also know, I am not a very good cook.  But I'm trying to do it more because I like to have control over what's in my food and, you know, everyone has to eat so I might as well try to make it healthy.  So here is one of my favorite soups.  It's my adaptation of one that David makes which is loosely based on Italian Wedding soup.  It's pretty delicious and, I would say, most effective on the dark-cold-winter-anxiety type feelings.

Well now that we got the disclaimer out of the way, these are the ingredients.  I trust you are bright enough to discern what they are without me listing them so I'm going to skip that.  Also, I don't really do measurements- this is supposed to make your life easier, not harder!  Ain't nobody got time for that.  So just whatever you feel like or, you know, common sense always works.  (Maybe this is why I'm not a great cook?)

Next, follow these very detailed instructions:

1. Choose a time during nap time.  This is best so that when your toddler refuses to nap then they can come and help you in the kitchen.  Thanks for the help Aiden!  I don't know how I could have done it without you (cough much quicker cough).

2. Peel the potatoes.  Not because it's necessary (the skin tastes fine!  it's takes so much time to peel! there are probably nutrients in there!) but because that's what David does and he is the one who always makes this and you miss him (he's on a trip to Belgium).

3. Next boil the potatoes.  They don't have to be thoroughly cooked- just get them started.  Also, take lots of photo because... because.. actually I have no idea why.

4. While the potatoes are boiling chop the rest of the vegetables.  Don't peel the carrots because it takes forever and, lets be honest, no one can tell by the time they are cooked in the soup anyway.

5. Periodically check on what level mess your toddler is causing.  If it's classified as anything less than Superfund site, I recommend continuing what you were doing.

6. Brown the sausage.  Think about vegetarianism for the 1029387583948th time.

7. Realize you forgot the spices!  Crap!  Don't tell David or he will say something annoying and true like "You always forget the spices!"  Quickly put in some Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper.

8. Add two parts chicken stock and one part water to a pot with all the veggies and sausage and let it simmer for an hour.  Take this time to survey the damage in your living room and marvel and the number of couch cushions spread across the living room.

9.  When it's done, you can add some heavy cream if you like your soup cream-y or milk if that's what you have on hand.  Or not, if you are of the superior opinion that broth-y soup is better.  At this point, with the growing list of modifications, wonder if there will be much resemblance to the soup David makes.

10. Lastly, put the soup in the fridge and go to your brother's house.  You hear they just spent $300 at the grocery store and his wife is a great cook who certainly doesn't take any photos while cooking.  Weirdos.

November 24, 2014

Boy Moms Series at ChasinMason

Today, I'm over on ChasinMason talking about my experience being a boy mom.  Thanks for having me Elizabeth, it was so much fun!  Check it out: here.

November 16, 2014

Parlez Vous Francais?

The other day I was signing Aiden up for daycare (again) and two of the questions broke me out of my typical form-filling-out-trance:
1) What languages are spoken in the household?
2) What languages are books read in?

The first one I was able to answer with a reasonably clear conscience: English and French!  I know about the same amount of French as a Madewell t-shirt (ie none) but it's David's first language and he tries to speak it to Aiden whenever they are alone together.  There are so many amazing benefits of learning languages as a young child; better critical thinking skills, increased creativity, delayed onset of Alzheimers, the list is pretty staggering.  Plus, French is such a beautiful language and bilingual just sounds so cultured!  But calling ours a bilingual household is a bit of a stretch and the second question exposed my fib.  Aiden is read to in only one langue, at best.  (It's so hard to get the little guy to sit still!)

Damn.  Are we missing this opportunity and failing him already?!?

Before Aiden was born, while we were still oblivious, well-rested, dewy-faced, soon-to-be parents and I was looking for things to worry about (it's required of new moms, right?), I asked David if he thought Aiden would learn to speak French.  "Of course!" he said, clearly thinking my question was ridiculous.   "It's my native language- why wouldn't he?"  But alas, it is not so easy and the little guys claim to bilingualism is tenuous.

Language is such a strange creature.  Like, for example, that it is possible for an adult living in a different country to forget their native language.   I mean ....?!?!!  This blows my mind- if I could forget English then I could forget literally anything (and I do mean actually literally not just as pop-culture vocab).  This started to happen to my high school ski coach- he was from Macedonia and, after 10 years of speaking mostly only English, he was slowly losing his native tongue.  So hard for me to comprehend!  And even weirder- his English wasn't perfect at that point so, in some ways, he was without a (perfect) form of expression!  Language seems so permanent and basic and un-influential but it's really fluid and underling practically everything we do.  It even influences the way/things we think!

I have a friend whose Spanish-speaking parents purposely didn't teach her Spanish- they joked that then they could then have a secret language for "adult-talk."  But I've heard of several parents doing this because they want their kids to fit in and not seem like foreigners- so sad, on many levels.  It also probably happens just because it takes a surprising amount of concerted effort.  Which is exactly what's happening with us.

Aiden's favorite book BY FAR- we just look at the pictures and say them in English but I'm try to start saying them in French too
But all is not lost by his first birthday, either.  Many years ago I attended elementary school in Japan and went from zero to conversational in just a few months.  Months!  (Caveat: conversational for a 10 year old is somewhat limited.)  There is something amazing about kids' brains.  I have this distinct memory of standing in the middle of a giant train station on a weekend trip to Tokyo and wondering why my mom couldn't understand the elderly Japanese man trying to give us directions (in Japanese).  Four hours later after missing our original train and waiting for next one, I realized I understood better than I thought and should have translated.  When I think about it now, it amazes me- in maybe half a year, I easily spoke Japanese with the neighborhood kids, went to school in Japanese, and could read (except for Kanji).  I wish I could still do that today!

It's such an amazing gift to be able to give Aiden with more wide-ranging and additional, non-intuitive benefits than I can name.  Plus, I really want to develop that skill myself- it's fun and opens doors and, really, it seems only fair to David.  Plus, did I mention I find it romantic?

I've tried Rosetta Stone and really like it and also have been meaning to try Duolingo (which looks cool and is free).  I'm even considering Little Pim for Aiden, although it's not free and it feels a little over the top in a tiger-mom-ish way.  I'm also really excited about the baby books I got recently.  They are for Aiden obviously, but also for me in a way- I heard somewhere that reading familiar children's books in a new language was good way to learn (as an adult).  Sounds lovely.  I really hope it's true so maybe we can learn together, Aiden and I.

I should be able to keep up with a 2 year old, right?