Friday Night Meatballs

It’s Friday. This morning, like I have for the last two Friday mornings, I chopped up an onion, opened two cans of crushed tomatoes, and mixed them into my slow cooker (circa 1970-something) with garlic and capers and other deliciousness. Friday Night Meatballs are on their way.

I came across this article a few months ago — Friday Night Meatballs: How to Change Your Life with Pasta. It spoke to me immediately. In many ways, maternity leave has been lonely. I get out and socialize but a lot of the time ‘socializing’ = ‘walking the baby to the grocery store so I can talk to a grown up.’ She is too young for the baby dance classes, there is no public pool, we don’t have a shopping mall where we could go and walk around, most of our friends’ invitations to things are past bedtime or age of majority required, meaning only one of us can go… it gets isolating. This is the season of life I am in right now and it will change. But I needed to see people. I needed to have friends and companionship and socialization in a place that could accommodate our daughter and her roughly scheduled day, too. Enter meatballs.

Every Friday I get the sauce going in the slow cooker and leave it on low all day. This week I have frozen meatballs leftover from a huge batch last week, but the other times we’ve done Friday Night Meatballs I’ve oven-baked them during nap time. When M wakes up today we will probably walk to the store for bread and salad. When Matt gets home from work we’ll quickly tidy the living room, dining room, and bathroom. Around 6 pm I’ll put the pasta water on to boil and slowly, people will stream in.

We are still working out the kinks. Last week I felt like I was sequestered in the kitchen while everyone else was having fun. We don’t have enough chairs. It’s really freakin’ hot in our house once I get the stove going, and if we ever get guests with food allergies I’m gonna need to do some advance planning. But it’s totally worth it. Friday Night Meatballs give us something to look forward to, and a chance to open our home to friends, old and new. I think it will be especially wonderful in the depths of winter.

If you’re ever in our neck of the woods on a Friday, come eat meatballs!

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M at 11 Months


Why the bucket? Because yesterday (when she turned 11 months old) she wouldn’t sit still otherwise. :) We have gone from lying down with the moose to sitting on her chair with the moose to me draping a blanket over the side of the crib and hoping she’ll stay still long enough to snap a somewhat decent photo. Good thing there’s only one picture left in this series!


I actually have measurements this time around! Well — maybe not totally up to date measurements, but it’s something. About two weeks ago she weighed 20.5 lbs, and last week she was just about 30″ tall. She has grown another tooth, a new one on the top which will finally make her upper teeth symmetrical when it comes in all the way. Matt says it looks like she may be cutting a molar soon, too — I generally try to avoid putting my fingers in her mouth so I’ll take his word for it. ;)


Nothing new!


The temper tantrum stage continues. She can tell when we are about to stop her from doing something and she does not like it one bit. She’s still happy, though — I think she just needs some more space to play. We are still working on getting things safe for her to have access to the hallway and her room, which will hopefully prevent some of the baby gate induced tears. She’s always happy to wake up and say hi in the morning and after her naps, and she gets really excited when people come over. I can see her sense of humour coming out and so far it’s pretty goofy!


Walking! She started a few weeks ago, just a few steps, but these past few days she’s been toddling for longer stretches, especially if she has a toy in her hands to distract her from thinking about what she is doing. When she really wants something she crawls because she’s faster, but you can tell she’s proud of herself for moving upright and it’s something she’s working on every day. She can also climb off of our bed by herself (though we still spot her) and has picked up a few new regularly used words like “pretty” and “hot.” Speaking of hot — if anyone is near something warm she flaps both of her hands and gets distressed. I may have overdone it on the warnings. She’s good at following simple directions like “bring this to Daddy” and she loves to clean up by picking up her unwanted food and putting it on a plate, or putting things in bins (I keep finding her socks in her garbage can).



She was reliably getting herself to sleep after naps, as I’d put her down in her crib after nursing her and she’d roll over and go to sleep. Now she resists and cries. We give her about five minutes to stop and/or fall asleep before we try again. At night, it’s iffy — she’s either so tired that she goes down easily, or she fights it like she does at nap time. This seems to be dependent on if she had a two nap day or a one nap day, which has no rhyme or reason. Some nights she sleeps straight through and others, she’s up once or twice. I’m battling my own case of insomnia so it’s a bit trying but I’m trying to not stress about it because I know daycare is going to throw everything for a loop, soon.


M is in a bit of a picky phase. She’s partial to carbs and dairy and doesn’t want to eat very many vegetables or fruits these days. We get her to eat it anyway by being creative — cherries on her toast, cheese on top of peppers, or a sandwich stuffed full of everything. Some days she eats a lot, some days I wonder how she’s not starving. Giving her a preloaded fork seems to help.

She is still nursing, albeit less often. We consistently nurse when she wakes up, before nap time, and before bed, but in the in between times she sometimes doesn’t bother. Yesterday I think she only nursed for 30 seconds all afternoon! She loves to drink water from her straw cup so I think she may end up weaning for daytime, which is fine by me as I’m going back to work. I think for the next month she’s in daycare I’ll send her with one bottle of breastmilk, and after she turns a year old I will try to adjust things so that we’re only nursing at home.


She’s mostly in 12-18 month clothes, because she needs the length, especially in pants! Because she’s walking she’s wearing shoes when we go outside, and we’re in the season where she generally needs a coat, too. Once winter rolls around for good it will be interesting to navigate boots and snowsuits.


Books! This month has been alllll about reading. She brings us every book she can round up and we read them to her over and over. She also loves her musical toys and if you tell her to play you a song she’ll mash the buttons happily. She still loves animals like crazy. She’s very in to the flowers leftover in our front perennial garden, too — she’s happy to stand and touch them while saying “Pretty!”


Getting dressed and getting changed, still. She doesn’t like when gates are shut or doors closed, and she occasionally gets upset if she has to say bye-bye (though she still waves while pouting).

Mom and Dad:

Today, Matt realized he won’t see M at lunch as of next week because she’ll be at daycare. After almost a year of coming home to hang out with us, he was pretty sad when it dawned on him. We’ve both had our verklempt moments but overall we have had a happy month and I know we will get used to things. We’ve really been enjoying seeing all of her new skills and her emerging personality!

Things to Remember:

Thanksgiving, and M’s fun with Baxter the dog. The way she insistently chased her Uncle Jesse around trying to grab his beer a few days ago. That time she walked all the way from the hallway into the kitchen. Her spiky post-bath hair. Holding her head up while she practically fell asleep in the Canadian Tire shopping cart. So many little moments that make up our lives.

Dear M,

When you fell asleep tonight, in my arms, I felt like I was holding the whole world. Some scary things happened today in Canada, and we worried about family and friends while it all unfolded. You weren’t worried, of course — you’re free from grown up concerns like that — but it made me hug you extra tight at the end of the day. We are so lucky to have you.

And today, especially, I do feel lucky. I feel lucky that I have been there for your first words, your first steps. Your first food, your first smiles, every single one of your teeth — so far I have been there for everything. That is going to change, soon. I won’t be present for all of your new experiences or regular routines. You’ll come to rely on other people in new ways, in the ways that used to be in my realm. It’s tough to swallow but it’s a part of growing up, for all of us. Because one day you will set out entirely on your own, and all I will be able to do is smile and hope that I have prepared you as best as I can.

M, you are our world. And no matter what happens, no matter how old you get, no matter where you go or what you do — we will be there, if not physically, then as the little voice in your head that says “You are special and you are loved.”



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Live Clean Fresh Face Collection

Live Clean recently sent me a few items from their Fresh Face collection to review — good timing, because the impending change of seasons always wreaks havoc with my skin!

As always, the products are made with earth and body friendly ingredients. This includes 98% plant-based ingredients, keeping the products gentle and soothing for skin (especially skin transitioning into winter, I think). These products are free of things like petroleum, SLS/sulfates, parabens, phthalates and phosphate. The Fresh Face collection, in particular, features orchid, “the eternal youth flower” and Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, as well as other organic botanical ingredients.

Live Clean

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Home Harvest: Tomatoes

I haven’t actually harvested anything from the garden in a few weeks now (we had frost and snow and I’m just ignoring it all until next weekend when I will hopefully get a chance to do some winterizing). But, I want to finish up this series for our 2014 garden!


The tomatoes were an underdog with a sad ending (mostly). When I planted them from seed inside the house I didn’t think they would survive, but when I got them into the ground outside they started to flourish almost right away. I chose to grow a determinate type of tomato. What that means is that they don’t keep growing and climbing — they stop at a certain point, so they don’t need as much support. Being a total newb gardener I didn’t realize that I should have staked them in some fashion, which led to their downfall.

When we left for our summer vacation the tomatoes were doing so well. Matt referred to that part of the garden as my tomato jungle because they were really going nuts. When we came home they had gone flat. I don’t know if they got too much water or not enough, or the weight of the tomatoes finally snapped the plants, but they all started to rot on the vine, and the actual plants started to rot, too. About a month ago I went up and grabbed most of the green tomatoes that looked like they would be able to ripen indoors.

There’s a surprising amount of controversy over ripening tomatoes inside! I guess it’s actually not ripening, it’s reddening. I ignored all the crazy tips for doing so, and just left them in a box on the counter — all but a few of them reddened just fine. And while they were softer than what a normal ripe tomato would be, they were still better than the tomatoes from the grocery store. I didn’t get a huge yield, thanks to all of the rot, but we did enjoy them for a few weeks!

Matt isn’t a tomato fan, so I did most of the eating. :) The first few slices I had on a sandwich — just tomatoes, mayo, butter, salt, pepper and bread. Yum. I made a tiny batch of roasted tomato and cream pasta sauce. A few chunks made it into salad, my father-in-law had some in soup and just cut up as a side dish with dinner, and M and I ate a few caprese salads with basil from the yard (SO GOOD). The best thing I did with them, though, was make homemade ketchup, I followed Mark Bittman’s recipe and it was a success!

Next year I think I will grow indeterminate tomatoes and take the time to stake them properly. But I would prefer to grow a larger portion of paste tomatoes for processing if there’s only two of us who will eat them raw regularly, and I think Romas are determinates so I’ll have to do a few bush plants. I’d also like to grow some smaller tomatoes, either grapes or cherries.

I was pretty sad to see all of that fruit rot, but I learned a lesson about planning things out better, and I think next year will be a good tomato year!

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It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. Yesterday I drove up to Pickle Lake with M in the car — Matt had driven up with a few other people on Friday but they had lots of winterizing work to do at my in-laws’ camp, and we figured it would be easier for me to just bring myself and the baby for dinner then drive home later that night.

Luckily we had amazing weather yesterday. I was really shocked to be driving all the way up to Pickle Lake (it’s as far north as you can go on a regularly maintained highway in Ontario), in mid-October, with the car thermometer giving me a reading of 15C for the outdoor temperature. I actually really enjoyed the drive — M fell asleep and I listened to music and I had the road mostly to myself (I did see a mama moose and a baby moose). I also beat my own personal record for drive time but I probably shouldn’t brag about that. ;)

Thanksgiving has been a total gamble since I’ve moved here. We never do the same thing twice. We’ve hosted people at our home, we’ve travelled up north, and we have pretty much forgotten about the holiday completely and pulled something out of the freezer at the last moment. I do like the traditional Thanksgivings the most, with the turkey and the pie and the family, but I appreciate that they are still low-key. Gone are the days of an entire living room full of 26 people and fancy china — give me gravy and I am satisfied.

We talked about what we were thankful for, yesterday, and the common response was family. This has certainly been a year that embodies the idea of many hands making lighter work. I am thankful and grateful for the give and take, for the caring and balancing that happens across the miles. Without our family, near and far, we would be facing some challenges and I hope that we have made life better for our loved ones in some way this year, too.


I’m particularly thankful for my daughter, who eats pie the same way as her dad. She had a blast yesterday despite being tired and a bit under the weather. Every holiday seems to feel a bit more special with her by our side — well, every day seems a bit more special, actually.

I’m thankful for the opportunity I have had to stay at home with her these past months and I am also thankful that I am going to be able to return to work without issue (go Canada!). I’m thankful that we have a daycare provider for her and I’m thankful that M is flexible enough to roll with the changes we are introducing. I’m thankful that I wake up every morning to the sounds of a little girl screaming “KITTEEHHHHHH!” coming from the room down the hall. I’m thankful she let me sleep in a bit today.

I wish we had a way to bend space and time to visit M’s other grandparents more frequently, but on that note, I am thankful for the technology that allows us to share her life as much as possible with the people who love her, no matter how far away they may be.

Last year I was super pregnant at Thanksgiving and counting down the days until I had an outside baby. I was grateful then, for all the goodness in our lives (especially leftover pie), and I’m grateful now. Happy Thanksgiving!

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