Belle Auguri

Family, food, travel, and celebrating la vita bella!



Not qualified to give advice…

A friend’s mom recently asked me to write a couple paragraphs of advice for new parents for a book for my friend who is having her first child.  While I was happy to contribute, I don’t feel at all qualified to provide anyone advice.  I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time!

The following was what I finally managed to come up with.  Inappropriate? Of course.  I didn’t want to just say the same old things.  Hopefully it helps her though or at least provides a laugh.  (I think she’s just as quirky as I am, or at least was in high school.)  I figured I’d share it here because I haven’t gotten to blog recently as we’ve been traveling (thanks Delta) and LB was quite sick for a week (thanks 2 docs who prescribed Z pack which is now ineffective against almost everything).

Advice for New Parents

I won’t give you the traditional advice, because you can just Google that and likely already have!  What I want to share with you is something that has gotten me through many long sleepless nights and sometimes crazy daytime behavior that is mystifying to anyone but a toddler.  Babies are just small, drunk people.

Toddlers stumble around, are constantly changing their minds, love everyone but get frustrated incredibly easily.  They don’t know what they want, and you’ll often have to convince them to drink some water or lay down and rest.  You also can’t understand a thing they are saying.  But just like your college friends, you’ll step up and do what you can to help them feel better/keep them safe.  Unlike your friends (hopefully), they’ll pull this shit on you every day for a year (or 2 or 3).  But they’re so cute when they’re happy that you’ll forget the hard times.  And when they’re being crazy, just think “this too shall pass”.

Newborns have it worse.  What is it like to be born?  It’s probably similar to recovering from the worst hangover.  The lights are too bright, everyone is talking too loudly, the room is too cold, and they have no idea where they are or how they got there.  Plus, they’re hungry but eating makes them spit up.  The best thing to do is help them sleep it off.  Treat the first three months as a “fourth trimester” and then they’ll really be ready to tackle the world!

File Aug 15, 4 25 02 PM.jpeg
LB’s best newborn “hungover” face.

La mia fine di settimana

Sono nervosa.  Questo è il mio primo posto in italiano.  Studiavo l’italiano per tredici anni, di tanto intanto (off and on).  Però quando io provo a parlare l’italiano, non posso pensare!  Anche ora, sto facendo una volta difficile.  Fiduciosamente (hopefully), la pratica mi aiuterà!

Questa fine di settimana scorsa:

  • La mia famiglia ed io siamo andati ad una festiva di mango.  Purtroppo, ci non era molti mango.  Tuttavia, ho bevuto l’acqua fresca della noce di cocco (coconut), diritto dal cocco!
  • Ho infornato fatto in casa (homemade) dei pancake e dei cracker per LB.  (Is this really how you say “pancakes” and “crackers” in Italian?)
  • Mio marito ha cucina pesce per me per cena, e c’èra delizioso!
  • Ho cominciato a aggiustare (fix/mend) una trapunta (quilt) che l’ho aveva per molti anni.

Peace comes from within

I’m having a rough day.  I feel guilty even writing that with all the horrible things taking place in the world right now, especially the gun violence against both civilians and police officers in the last week.  But it’s how I feel, and this is my outlet.

Little Bear didn’t really sleep last night.  Or the night before.  Or most nights since January.  And when I say that to people, most of them don’t get it, just how bad it can be I mean.  Even the ones who have had kids have blocked it out.  I hope I do one day, too.

When he was young, he slept great.  He would wake up a few times a night to nurse, which made sense because he was small and would get hungry.  And he would go back to sleep peacefully.  Then he started daycare at around 4.5 months, and he started getting ear infections.  And teething – he got 6 teeth in as many weeks.  Ever since, he hasn’t slept.

On a good night now he will still wake up 2-3 times a night and need coaxing back to sleep.  We only get good nights every now and then, and never more than two in a row.  I go to sleep hoping that I will get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep, knowing it’s likely that I won’t.

Last night, LB went to sleep quite happily and calmly at around 8:30pm.  He woke up at around 11pm and we got him back to sleep laying next to me in bed.  But then, he woke up at 12:30am and basically screamed until 4:30am.  Nothing we tried worked except me nursing him.  I nursed him until it hurt and I had to stop, and then he screamed some more.  We’re really at a loss, and I have been exhausted and upset all day.  This whole situation with LB makes me intensely frustrated and sad.

That’s not what this post was supposed to be about.  My plans really devolved quickly!  This post was supposed to boost me out of this rut of self-pity.

I have a lot to be thankful for.  On days like this, it’s easy for me to forget it.  So here’s my list, and to make up for the depress-fest above, here’s one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.

His name is Jimmy.  He was my camel for an overnight excursion into the Moroccan Sahara.  (Erg Chebbi, Morocco. 2011)

I am thankful that…

  • I have a partner in this world (Papa Bear) who I am still very much in love with after ten years together.
  • I have a family who loves me including living parents and a sister who is one of my closest friends.
  • I have a healthy baby (LB) who is generally pretty happy (during the day) and brings me joy with everything new he learns each day.
  • I have a secure job that I’m usually pretty good at (except for a recent project that I’m bumbling my way through), and for which I get to use my brain and be a lifelong learner.
  • I have a warm and cosy home, a car that runs, decent health insurance, and a retirement savings account.  I no longer have to check my bank account when I want to meet a friend for coffee to see if I have enough money.
  • I may not have a lot of free time (no more reading books for pleasure in a weekend or binge-watching OITNB), but I do have hobbies that I enjoy.  I cook, I bake, I take pictures of flowers, I practice Italian, and now I blog!
  • I get to travel.  Not as much as I used to before LB, but I’ve gotten to visit places in the world on three continents, and I’m planning to visit more.

They say “Un’immagine vale più di mille parole,” a picture is worth a thousand words, and so here are some that bring me joy.

French Kids Eat Everything

Last month I finished reading French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, and it was really quite interesting!  Le Billon tells the story of moving her family (with two young children) to a remote part of Brittany, France, where her husband grew up.  A lot of what she writes isn’t advice but simply stories about her experiences, the various things she tried with her girls, and the traditions of that particular region.

While I found several of her stories shocking (it was considered rude to interrupt dinner when her husband had to go to the ER for a severe allergic reaction) and the French views on breastfeeding and attachment parenting disappointing (it’s rarely done and usually frowned upon), there were a lot of really fantastic ideas to help kids develop a healthy attitude toward food.  By “healthy,” I don’t mean specifically focused on diet or nutrition.  I mean that eating should be enjoyable:

  1. Families should try to eat together, at the table without distractions, for at least one meal a day.
  2. Meals shouldn’t be rushed.  This is a social time!
  3. Variety is important.  Don’t eat the same meat/vegetable/grain more than one time each week.  Trying new foods should be exciting, not scary.
  4. Cooking is a time to be enjoyed.  Slow down and savor the art.  Set the table and even light a candle.  Put on some music.  (Le Billon recommends French artists Yann Tiersen and Francis Cabrel who I’ve been enjoying.)

My son is only 10 months old, but this book has inspired me to encourage his developing tastes before neophobia (the fear of new foods) sets in around two years old.  Right now, he eats everything!  He even enjoyed some baked oysters recently when we were at the beach.  But I realized that I need to be more adventurous.  I don’t eat a lot of seafood, and so I’ve made a special effort recently to cook more seafood at home.  I’ve started with lighter fish like tilapia and cobia, but plan to work my way up to more adventurous offerings!

Little Bear at 7 1/2 months old.  We’re still working on eating neatly!

I’ve also been taking it slower in the kitchen.  It’s summer now and I’m not teaching, so while I still go into the office to work five days a week, I have a little more time at home.  I’ve gotten to try several new dishes and am embracing this time for “marvelous meals” (pasta squisti) as Dianne Hales writes on her blog La Bella Lingua.  Perhaps some will stick around and become part of our regular repertoire in the fall!

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