Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Food, Glorious Food

Dear Ian,

Let's start this blog post off with a definition, shall we?

Epicurean: [ep-i-kyoo-ree-uhn, -kyoor-ee-] adjective.
1.  Having luxurious tastes or habits, especially in eating or drinking
2.  fit for an epicure
synonyms: gourmet.

See also:  Ian Brooks

Since I started this blog when you were about seven months old, I realized that I missed out on blogging some of your milestone moments.  One of these was brought to my mind in full force as we ate lunch today.  I never blogged about your first meal and solid foods experience!  And what a shame that is, because darling boy, if there is one thing you love, it is food.  And I'm not talking about typical toddler food, either.  You have a palate way more sophisticated that mine ever dreamed of being when I was your age.  You are pretty dang adventurous when it comes to what you eat.  

Let me preface this story of your crazy taste buds by saying that Mommy has not always been an adventurous eater.  I had (and honestly still have) a culinary comfort zone that from which I was hesitant to move away.  I like to be able to pronounce what I am eating, recognize it and understand where it originated.  Raw veggies were not my style.  I prefer them cooked within an inch of their little veggie lives and hidden if possible.  I was shallow, limited, and naive.  Thankfully your Daddy slowly introduced me to random, weird foods, which if left to my own devices, I would have just lived without.  Things like Chinese dumplings (holy cow, am I glad he made me eat those), red wine, and the like were soon part of my life.  When we started traveling abroad, my palate was expanded by necessity.  I either ate or went hungry.  So, I learned to adapt and appreciate all kinds of foods I would have ordinarily never even tried.  Some things I loved, others, like beef tongue, which I ate by accident, I can go a lifetime without ever eating again.  Eww.  Russia and Malaysia would have been amazing places to diet had I not learned to expand my tastes.  

Fast forward a few years, and I was pregnant with you and determined to make sure that you started your life off with fabulous nutrition.  I ate a lion's share of veggies that I still to this day don't like, because I figured there was something in them you needed.  I balanced the veggies with proteins and fruits, I drank a crap ton of water and I craved stuff like applesauce, black-eyed peas and Malaysian food that, until we discovered The Curry Pot restaurant, I had to just deal with.  About halfway through my pregnancy, your Daddy and I watched a show on the Discovery Channel or the like that was all about developing babies and how their tendencies for things like food actually begin in the womb.  I was thrilled to know that you were learning to like all of the stuff I was eating, even if I wasn't wild about it myself.  But was all that really true?  Or was it baloney?  (Which for some reason, I cannot stand anymore. Hmm)

Your fancy first food.
Your first solid food experience was actually pretty cool.  While pregnant, Mommy and Daddy realized that our spoiled, slightly yuppie lifestyle was about to change drastically, so we ate out a lot at our favorite restaurant, Mozaik.  Chef Chris Traylor makes some amazing food, and since he uses some wacky ingredients, we figured we were helping your developing palate.  We joked around that since you were enjoying it so much in-utero, that perhaps he should make your first baby food.  And, that's exactly what happened.  Around your sixth-month-day, we took sweet little you to Mozaik, and Chef made you a puree of green beans.  Ahem.  Haricots verts.  You LOVED it, and from then on, we were on an eating adventure.  There was  hardly a thing that you didn't like.  

A few months and a few teeth later, I got a big shock as it pertained to food.   Daddy and I got last minute tickets to the Tallahassee Food and Wine Festival, and since we couldn't get spur of the moment child care, we took you with us.  I carried you around in the sling, and we wandered from table to table sampling yummies.  At one particular table, I reached for a treat, only to have you take it right out of my hand and start gumming away at it.  You ate it and three more!  Then the server told me what you were eating...  Portabello mushrooms with duck confit with a red wine reduction on a crustini.  Holy cow.  All I could do was pray that you would continue to eat regular food after this delicacy.  

Since that moment, you have continually shocked and amazed me with what you eat.  Most kids your age tend to rotate among things like chicken nuggets, spaghetti and the like.  While you eat those things too, you also enjoy all manner of veggies, black olives, hummus, Indian food, Chinese food, and your all time favorite: Veal Parmesan.  Going back to today's lunch, which prompted this post and trip down memory lane, we went to Subway.  You wanted a tuna sandwich, which is your norm, but then I held you up and you chose your toppings.  You ordered your tuna with cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and black olives.  And you ate the whole dang thing.  Come to think of it, the only thing that tops the size of your food variety is the amount of what you eat!  Especially during a growth spurt.  I may just have to start working at Publix.  

Anyhoo.  I'm going to end this post with a few pictures of your most adorable first-foods moments.  It's so neat to look back on these baby days; I may have to do more of these flashback posts.

 Your first spoonful of big boy food, lovingly prepared by Chef Chris Traylor. 
Daddy getting in on the feeding action.  
 Sweet little you, covered in blueberries.  I made almost all of your baby food.  We sorta worked our way around the produce section of Publix.  Then I would steam and puree your fruits and veggies and put them in an ice cube tray.  Those colored ice cubes are one of my favorite food memories.
 Yay for carrots!  Yummy AND fun!
You eating carrots again, but this time diced up.  You wanted to start feeding yourself at a pretty early age.  And you were done with baby food purees at about 8 months old.  Time for more textured and tasty stuff Mom!

Time at the table, and time spent cooking, with you has been a great adventure for the two of us.  You've shown me that even though Mommy might not like a food, it doesn't mean that you won't like it.  And I must say, I do think I've become a little better about eating creatively, since I'm trying to show you that new things are fun and yummy.  We are learning about nutrition together, and it's my hope that you grow up a healthy eater.  Sure, we have treats every now and then, but knowing what it healthy to put in your body is a valuable and important lesson.  

Everything in moderation, little dude, except for how much I love you,
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Boredom Busters

Dear Ian,

It's that most wonderful time of the year in Florida: Hurricane Season.  Typically during the summers in Tallahassee it rains everyday anyway, but occasionally we are lucky enough (being totally sarcastic here) to  be blessed with the presence of a Tropical Storm or Hurricane.  At the moment, Tropical Storm Debby is gracing us with her presence, and that bad mamajama has parked herself off the Gulf coast and is proceeding to just rotate and blow nasty rain and stormy weather our way.  Today is Monday.  It rained most of the day yesterday, it is raining today, and according to our friends at the Weather Channel, it's going to stay wet throughout our entire week.

What does this mean for us?  Well, it means day after day of wet, soggy weather that does not allow for us to play outside so much.  It means being confined to quarters with an energetic two year old.  Mommy better get her creative hiney in gear to keep us both from going off the deep-end as a result of cabin fever.  We're battening down the hatches and pulling out all the stops.

Day One of our confinement:  We made a wicked cool sheet fort this morning.  I had to vacuum anyway, so we rearranged all the furniture, swept up, and then we covered the WHOLE living room with sheets.  Complete with our ficus tree in the middle, your tent was one cool play space.  We used your collapsible  tunnel as your entrance, and you hauled in your toy laptop, a few stuffed friends and some trucks.  And it kept you pretty busy.  Well, in reality you were occupied long enough for me to vacuum my bedroom, your bedroom and the dining room rug.  Then it was time for me to come play.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I played in a sheet fort, and this was pretty fun.  We read books, sang Going On Bear Hunt, and then, we ended up having a picnic in our little hideaway.  It was a blast!

 You in your gigantic fort.  Took up the entire living room

Lunch time in the fort.  On my freshly vacuumed floor.  Smart planning?  Probably not, but who cares?

We took it down for nap, although you protested like a champ for me to leave it up and let you nap in it.  Had to turn you down on that one, buddy.  Mommy needs a little quiet time, so I need your sweet little self upstairs napping.  However, you've made me promise to reassemble it before Daddy comes home so you can play in there with him, too.  Not sure what else we're going to do this afternoon to keep us busy, so I'm off to dream up something fun.  Translation:  Mommy is taking a nap.  You wore me out!

Love you bunches,

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Father's Day Fun

Dear Ian,

So much has been going on, and we have been having so much fun that, as usual, Mommy is a little behind on things.  This past weekend was Father's Day, and we celebrated those great men in our life, Papa, Grandpa Brooks and Daddy in style.

We spent the weekend in Destin, Florida, playing at the Army Recreation Facility and the nearby beaches like we do this time every year, but this time was even more special because it was Daddy Day!  I will make sure to post more about the weekend and it's fun events later on, but for now, all about Father's Day.

We woke Daddy up that morning with hugs and kisses, and then we served him his very favorite breakfast: breakfast casserole.  But as we got it out to heat up and plate, we noticed that he had been munching on it the past couple of day we were in Destin, so on the actual morning he was supposed to get it, there was only enough for each of us to have one piece.  Sigh.  That Daddy.  We added some grapes and strawberries to help fill out the meal, and with orange juice to wash it down, it was great!  Then you gave Daddy his cards.  We found a couple of cute ones at the store, but his most special card was the one that you made for him (with a little help from Mommy).

Here's the cover of your card.  You were so deliberate and careful with the drawing of your circles.  You kept saying, "I don't want to cover up the words!"  It turned out so nice!  

 Here's the inside of your card to Daddy.  Mommy asked you some questions about him, and you gave me answers.  I wrote them down word-for-word, so they are true, authentic Ian opinions.  In case you cant read them, here's what it says:

My Daddy's name is: Erik
and he is: 2 years old.
My Daddy works at: work and he makes money.
His favorite thing to eat is: steak meat
and his favorite thing to drink is: water.
He does not like: snail juice.
I like to: play ball and say stories with my Daddy
I love my Daddy because: he loves me!

So cute!  Daddy loved it, and you were so proud of your work.  You got such a kick out of this project that we even had to make them for Grandpa Brooks and Papa, too.  Here they are:

This one was for Papa Davis.  Again with the careful circles :)

And Papa's says:
My Papa's name is: Brian, just like Uncle Brian
and he is: 16 years old.  
My Papa works: at the farm in Tallahassee
His favorite thing to eat is: vegetables
and he likes to drink: Pepsi Soda
He does not like: snail juice.
I like to: drive the 40 and the Cub and the mower with my Papa.
I love my Papa because: he loves me!

And finally, Grandpa Brooks' card:
By this time, you were really getting into the market art.  Therefore the cover of Grandpa's card is a little more... festive!  

And your interview about Grandpa went like this:

My Grandpa's name is: Tom
and he is: 16 years old.
My Grandpa works: at his office in the house.
His favorite thing to eat is: Teriyaki Chicken
and favorite thing to drink:  coffee from Starbucks.
He does not like: snail juice.
I like to: set the train up with my Grandpa
I love my Grandpa because: he loves me!

They all really seemed to love their cards, and I personally think they are just adorable.  Daddy's is already tucked away in your special keepsake box.  

Anyhoo.  Later that day, we played in the splash park (again, more on that later), took a great nap, and then we all went to a special dinner at The Back Porch, which is an amazing seafood restaurant right on the beach.  It was a great way to end a great day.  

Here's a final photo of you and Daddy in the funny big chair outside The Back Porch.  We are so lucky to have him!  He's a super, amazing and wonderful Daddy!

You two are my favorite boys!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

New York State of Mind

Dear Ian,

We kicked off our summer in style this year.  Last week we were jet-setters, off into the wild blue yonder and all that jazz.  We traveled to Cohocton, New York for your first ever summer vacation from school.  And it was a total blast.

You and I left On Saturday, June 2nd, all by ourselves.  Since somebody has to work and be responsible, Daddy stayed home for a few days before coming up and joining us on Thursday the 7th.  So yes, you and I flew in a plane, just the two of us.  And it was actually pretty awesome.

Waiting in the Tallahassee terminal.
You are just the perfect age for this kind of adventure, and despite all of my apprehension and worries, you were amazing.  Daddy dropped us off at the airport, and after checking in and getting our bag all situated, we went to our gate to wait for our plane to arrive.  The whole time we waited, you asked about a zillion questions; you were incessantly curious about this whole adventure.  After a bit, it was time for us to board, and you and I made our way onto our first flight.  This was from Tallahassee to Atlanta, so it was a quickie, and during the flight we read a couple of books, (Caillou Rides on a Plane was one of them.  Smart Mommy) and we played with your construction vehicles on the tray tables in front of us.  You were completely great.  You kept your seat belt on and used your inside voice.  You were also given a pair of wings by the flight attendant, and you kept showing them to me.  I think you were very proud of them.  Our layover in Atlanta was really short, so once we got off our flight, I tossed you in the sling, grabbed our bags, and we jogged from B Concourse to D.  It was a trek, but we made it in time, and even had time to make a quick potty stop.  Those are kinda necessary.  On the flight from the ATL to New York, you slept pretty much the whole way, so that really made life easy, and when we landed, Grandma and Papa were there to pick us up to start our vacation.

This trip was just completely wonderful.  Not only was the weather just perfect (lows in the 40's, highs in the 70's, with just a couple of rainstorms), it was peaceful, relaxing and... perfect.  I think we all needed this.  The barn and house are situated on the piece of property your Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather owned and worked in the 1800's, and there's plenty of room for a boy to run around.  It was great to be able to open the door and just let you go for it; no mosquitoes, no traffic, no nothing.  One snake, but Mommy and Grandma put an end to him.  You would run laps from the house to the maple tree, from the maple tree to the apple tree and back again.  Yet despite all of this fresh air and energy-draining exercise, you were still up with the sun at the unreasonable hour of 5:52am. Every morning but one.  Ugh.  But it got us going, so that way we really got as much out of our time there as possible.

Some of the other things we did: You and Papa rode the cub, and the mower, and the John Deere mower, and then the cub again, and then the mower again...  See a trend?  Then you ran. Then we visited the Posts, the Klines and Steve and Mary next door.  We ate delicious food at The Hole in The Wall and at Jacks Gaslight Grill.  We made an amazing dinner of fresh beef and produce from the farmer's market in Naples.  We planted flowers, gathered rocks, dug up worms and chased frogs.  We caught bass, sunfish, and catfish in the little pond, and we ransacked antique stores and consignment stores looking for treasures.  (Which Mommy found in your $10 Learning Tower.  Word.)  We attended the 125th Anniversary Celebration for the Perry Fire Department, and we admired old barns and new windmills in the scenery.

Words cant really do a lot of good when it comes to describing what a great time we had, so I think the rest of this post should be done in pictures...
 Here you are "meeting" your Great-Great-Great Grandparents.  Somewhere around here I have a picture of me doing this exact same thing when I was not much older than you are in this picture.
 Messing around at the Post Farm and enjoying the beautiful view.  And let's not forget that amazing weather that had us wearing jackets in June.  Awesome.
 One of Grandma's gardens.  The flowers seem to bloom and thrive up there so much better.  And the grass is so soft.  You can easily run around barefooted and not worry about the grass poking your feet.
 You and Papa on one of your many rides on the Cub.  You were in tractor/farm equipment Heaven.  Pretty much every 20 yards we would pass some kind of farm transportation vehicle, and you would just freak out.  It was a hoot!
 Pretend fishing with a stick on the pond.  We did some actual fishing, too, with real fishing poles and worms that we dug up in the garden.  The last night we were there, Mommy and Mary from next door had our very own fishing tournament.  They were really bitin', and you were super excited about seeing us bring them in.
 You and Papa now on the mower.  I think we were bringing up stones and rocks from the "crick."  Our family has this thing with rocks.  One day I will try to explain.
 You and Papa, once again on the Cub.  This time pulling Mommy on the hay rake.  This was not the most comfortable thing to ride on, and it was a little precarious.  I was worried for my safety.
 This picture was just really neat.  Grandma's hostas with rain on them.  It rained a little bit, but it was a nice, soothing rain.  With no humidity before or after.  A refreshing change, I must say.
 A view of the property and barn from the bridge over the creek. 
 A view of the property from behind the house looking at the pond and hollow.
 Mmmm.  Fresh produce.  This was at the Farmer's Market in Naples.  Not only did they sell amazing fresh foods, they sold flowers and knicknacks, too.  And homemade fudge.  We bought some raspberries and blueberries, and we had fun making "ice cream cones" with them.  We would put a blueberry on the top of the raspberry, and it made it look like an ice cream cone.  Then Mommy got the revolutionary idea to put small pieces of the fudge inside the raspberries.  Oh. My. Stars.  It was SO good.
 You visiting the cows at Kline's Dairy.  Doing the farm boy thing.  You loved seeing all the animals.
 You and Daddy with an antique fire truck at the 125th Anniversary Celebration of the Perry Fire Department.  We got to listen to Kelly's Old Timer Band, too, and you were completely mesmerized by the instruments.
 Us by our road sign.  Family tradition...
 The view of some of the hills from the car on our way to the airport to go home.  Sigh.  All good things...
You, completely passed out on the plane.  Perhaps all those 5:52am wake up calls finally caught up to you?  Sign of a great vacation?  Definitely.  

I can't wait to go back, and I think you do, too.  You pretend to see windmills when we go to Publix, and you ask about riding on the cub or going fishing in the pond.  And when I say something like, "Guess where we're going today?" you immediately respond, "New York?" 

Soon, little buddy.  We'll make it happen again soon.  

Your Traveling Partner
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Monday, June 11, 2012


Dear Ian,

I am a little behind the times when it comes to the topic of this post; the article that prompted my thinking of this topic was written almost a month ago.  But this past weekend, you and I traveled alone to Cohocton, New York (more on that later!) by airplane, and I was reminded of it again.  Our journey home had Daddy and Grandma Davis with us, but that couple of flights on our own really brought something to my attention.

There were other moms traveling alone or with their families, and to see them all loaded down like pack mules - this mom included - touched me.  Those moms probably used to tote one carry-on item that contained a book or magazine, lap top or some other item that was only just for them.  Now, they look like they are prepared for war or, at least, a natural disaster.  Food, toys, books, clothes and the like cram every square inch of a bag that just barely qualifies as a carry-on.  These moms have basically created a nursery-or-bedroom-in-a-bag.  And it made me smile.  Here they are, totally consumed by the needs of their children.  Come to think of it, really all I carried for myself on our flights was my wallet and a hairbrush.  Everything in our bag related to what you needed.  Who could ever doubt that these moms didn't put the care and attention of their children at the forefront of their traveling plans?

Getting back to that article I mentioned, it was all about the Attachment Parenting style, as described by Dr. William Sears.  This type of child-rearing, which really seems like common sense, stresses creating a solid and consistent bond between parent and child, and it is based on eight principles.  These are:
  1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
I do not know of any mom or parent that doesn't agree with these principles, whether or not they read or follow Dr. Sears.  But the big brewhaha with this article is based primarily on the cover and the title of the article:
Yes, this is a picture of an older child nursing.  No, it's not something I do.  But this is how this mom chooses to comfort or feed her child.  I comfort you with Lovey, and I feed you whatever we have in the pantry at any given moment.  No one says boo about what we do.  People were all in a tizzy over the picture, and while I can come up with other images of mothers doing extended nursing, it really shouldn't have been that big of a deal.  And it isn't to me.  What got me about this article was the title:

  Are You Mom Enough?  

WHAT?!  ALL moms are mom enough.  Just look at those moms in the airport.  Those moms carrying 90 pounds of baby and child paraphernalia.  Look at the moms sitting up at night for hours on end trying to soothe an infant to sleep.  Look at the moms fighting to get in a last-minute-spot at the pediatrician because their son's cough sounds a bit too wet (raising my hand here).  Look at the moms who cry when they drop their child off on the first day of school.  To say that some moms aren't being "Mom Enough" is an insult and a shame.  I couldn't believe someone was insinuating that mothers should be pitted against one another.  

Motherhood is like a sorority, and to join, moms put up with the most intense hazing and initiation process ever.  And there's more than one initiation.  There's the I-Just-Had-A-Baby chapter of the sorority, then there's the Trying-To-Survive-Toddlerhood chapter, and let's not forget the Dealing-With-A-Teenager chapter.  Moms everywhere willingly go through all of these uphill moments because they love their children.  There's no way I could ever point my finger at another mother and declare that she wasn't mom enough.  Just being a mom makes her enough.

The other day I was listening to the radio, and I noticed that all those sappy love songs they play could easily be a mom (or dad, let's not forget that daddies are just as important in the lives of their babies - your Daddy in particular) singing to their child.  And then I heard this song and it made my lose my breath, because to me, it was totally about you and my journey to you.  If there were any words to describe what I was feeling as you were born, it would be these, my son:
"A Thousand Years"
By Christina Perri

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I'm afraid to fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow

One step closer

I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don't be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What's standing in front of me
Every breath
Every hour has come to this

One step closer

I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don't be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

One step closer
One step closer

I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don't be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

Baby boy, I am Mom Enough.  You make me feel like more than enough.  I love you.

Your Mommy

Friday, June 1, 2012

Quickie Ian-isms

Dear Ian,

You and I are getting ready to zip off to Cohocton, New York, and I have a TON of packing to do, but I just had to write down a few of your most recent hilarious sayings and moments.  I gotta be quick, so here we go:

Setting:  Mommy runs off to the bathroom for a quick pee break alone.  You come up and bang on the door.
Ian: Mommy, are you in there?!
Mommy: Yes, Bear.  I'm going potty.
Ian:  Really?  What you getting out?
Mommy:  What?!
Ian: *opens the door and comes right on in* What you getting out?  I just got out pee pee.

Sigh.  Thanks for the update, kiddo.  On to the next one, which oddly enough, also has to do with pottying, since that's apparently all that goes on in our house.

Setting:  You come running into the living room after being in the bathroom doing your business.
Ian: Mommy, there's vegetables in my underwear.
Mommy: WHAT?!  (I say this a lot in our conversations)
*Here you proceed to drop your britches in the middle of the living room and show me the Fruit of the Loom label inside your undies.
Ian: See?  Vegetables.  Green grapes, purple grapes and a tomato.

This one made me giggle.  You were so amused by the fact that you were running around with veggies in your pants.  Fruits, to be exact, but hey.  It's healthy foods.

This next conversation I didn't exactly hear.  It came from Miss Kallie, your babysitter, but I can just hear every word coming out of your mouth.

Setting:  You were wearing your St. Patrick's Day shirt (in May, because you felt compelled to wear a green shirt to school that day) that says "I'm a wee bit Irish."
Miss Kallie:  Ian, are you a wee bit Irish?
Ian:  Yes, I am
Miss Kallie:  Is Mommy Irish?
Ian:  No, she's married.

I have no idea what one has to do with the other, but it struck me as funny.

You make me laugh on a daily, no hourly, basis Little Man.  Cant wait to hear what's coming out of your mouth next.

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