Our New Chapter: Bye Bye Babies

Yesterday our youngest transitioned from crib to toddler bed. At 2.25-years old, he was ready. But after spending 7 years pregnant and/or nursing, was I?

We recently began night weaning — ceasing breastfeeding for nighttime wakings — which gave rise to expected nighttime tantrums. Soon we realized he could seamlessly climb not just out of but INTO his crib in the dark. It was time to transition to a toddler bed.

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This shift from crib to bed, closes a chapter. With a 6-, 4.5-, and 2.25-year-old, there are no more cradles or burp cloths, diaper blow-outs or Ergo naps, first steps or puree drool. Instead, there are tantrums and scraped knees, learned letters and growing vocabularies, independently made friends and leaps out of my arms and into the outside world. We enter a new chapter of growing independence — physically, socially, and emotionally — and clarified personality.

Our baby is not a baby anymore. He hasn’t been for over a year. He is a budding human developing daily into his own rough-and-tumble, social-butterfly, adrenalin-fueled, book-loving individual. He’s not just present in the world; he’s experiencing it.

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As I tuck away the memories of the past 7 years of pregnancy and baby-rearing, I feel less sad than I’d expect. I feel fulfilled. Fortunate. Ready.

I thought I’d be a mess. I thought I’d be craving a return to new-parenthood. I’m not. I lived that beautiful life of sleepless survival for the better part of a decade. I grew, birthed, nursed, and nurtured three children through babyhood and ushered them into childhood. What a feat! And yet we’ve only begun.

There was a time I thought I’d never be able to have even one child. Then life happened, and I had three! How fortunate am I? How grateful.

And now I look ahead with eyes wide and heart open for all that will come, glancing at memories from the past with fond recollection, not mournful longing. Knowing much still lies ahead.

There will be tests of patience, battles of wills, joys over victories, tears over losses, daily confusion (for child and parent), and countless memories tucked away for safe keeping. It will be, like all growth journeys, both challenging and beautiful.

Some moments we’ll survive. Some moments we’ll savor. But it will all be worth it.

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Real Life: Wednesday Absurdity

We had 3 kids in 4 years. Now, with our offspring aged 2, 4.5, and 6 years, life is — well — humorously absurd. They say you either laugh or you cry. We laugh. A lot.

These tree scenarios aptly described our run-of-the-mill Wednesday evening.

**My 2-year-old tantruming beside me at the dinner table seething that he simultaneously does and does not want eat his dinner… because 2-years old.**
Me: Remember when a kid fussing and crying used to stress us out?
The Hubs: **laughing** Yeah. Now it’s just the background noise of our daily life.
———————-
**The 2-year-old squat-runs pantsless into the dining room holding his bum**
Me: NO POOPING IN THE DINING ROOM!
2-year-old: Bwahhhhhh!!! I wanna poop in dining room!
———————
4-year-old: What’s N + N + a banana?
Me: **staring blankly wondering how my life got so absurd**
4-year-old: 5

Sooo… yeah. That’s Wednesday in our house.

20-Minute Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Gluten-free, cruelty-free, entirely plant-based, and fast… doesn’t sound much like the deliciously heavy, meaty, time-consuming traditional shepherd’s pie. But it is. And it’s delicious!

This is all you’ll need.

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This is what you’ll have at the end of the meal. It’s a crowd pleaser.

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20-Minute Vegan Shepherd’s Pie 

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INGREDIENTS:

9oz Ready-to-eat (or leftover) lentils

16oz Frozen peas and carrots

20oz Frozen riced cauliflower

2-3 cup spaghetti sauce

1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Pour ready-to-eat  (or leftover) lentils into a small sauce pan with enough spaghetti sauce to cover. Cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until warmed through.

While lentils heat, microwave riced cauliflower according to package instructions. Remove from microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Pour peas and carrots into glass casserole baking dish (if it’s microwave safe), add a few dollop of Earth Balance on top of the veggies, and microwave for 2 minutes.

While the veggies heat, pour the cooked riced cauliflower and a dollop of Earth Balance to a blender. Blend until it creates a mashed potato texture (roughly 30 seconds.)

Layer the lentils on top of the peas and carrots, then smooth a layer of mashed cauliflower on top of the lentils.

Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.

*Optional: Remove shepherd’s pie from oven after 10 minutes and turn the oven to broil. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the cauliflower and place under the broiler until golden.

Let stand for 2-5 minutes to cool and set.

Enjoy!

My Unpopular Perspective: No Bad Days

“There is no such thing as a ‘bad day.'” This is not a widely held opinion, but it’s mine. As I see it, there are simply days neither wholly good nor wholly bad. Just days filled with moments… some moments are fun, some challenging, some sad, some happy, some purposeful, some tedious, some painful, some luxurious, some stimulating, occasionally some are tragic or traumatic, but most moments within most days are unremarkable.

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When I pick up my daughter from school and ask her about her day, and her response is, “I had a bad day.” I tell her that I’m sorry she had some hard moments but remind her that though parts of her day may have been difficult, her WHOLE day wasn’t bad. Then I ask her about the parts she felt were “bad.” After we have discussed her hurdles, I ask her about the positive parts of her day. Her mood pivots, her perspective changes as her attention shifts to recall the fun and pleasant aspects. She has reframed her day in that moment.

As I’ve explained to my children, simply because a certain fraction of a day’s moments belong within a specific emotional category — often oversimplified into “good” or “bad” — it doesn’t negate the rest of the day’s events. Because I stubbed my toe getting out of bed, poured my tea down the front of my shirt, and backed into a trashcan on my way out of the driveway, does that mean that the uneventful minutes I spent getting ready for the day were “bad”? That the loving moment I received a deep hug and maple syrup kiss from my child was “bad”? That my moments spent engaging in pleasant small talk with strangers or mundanely folding laundry were “bad”? Of course not! Therefore, the whole day wasn’t bad. Even if, say, I unexpectedly tragically lost a loved one later that day or felt burdened by world events that left an ache in my core, the sadness would be painful but it would not negate the plethora of moments before and after the event. It was not a “bad” day.

Often, we give too much power to the negative which, in turn, shifts our perspective. If we tell ourselves that we’re having a bad day, we’ll ensure that’s precisely the case by only seeing the bad. However, if we refuse to categorize the day as a lump sum, then we can appreciate each moment and each experience for what it is.

A yoga instructor recently said to the class I was attending, “This is how it is, now.” Meaning, each moment is different and fleeting. I burnt dinner and everyone is wailing in hunger? “This is how it is, now.” I feel sad over news clips? “This is how it is, now.” My kid tells me that I’m the best mommy ever? “This is how it is, now.” I share belly laughs with a dear friend? “This is how it is, now.”

It’s all temporary. It’s all fluid. Don’t cut yourself, your day, or your life short by categorizing your days in limiting, imprecise terms. Just take your days as they are — a collection of varied moments — and appreciate the experience.

Because, why survive when you can savor?