Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Trip to the Aquarium

It's getting a bit cooler, and we've been missing our Friday adventures the last couple of weeks, because of the bathroom renovations.

Yesterday we decided to throw caution to the wind and go out. Soon after moving here, we bought yearlong memberships to the aquarium. It works well for us because Noah loves spending time looking at the fish and sharks, but he doesn't have a very long attention span. Multiple short trips are just the thing for learning about water life and enjoying the nearby harbour.

We discovered the largest tank had been scrubbed since our last visit and suddenly we could see the giant turtle, sharks, and schools of fish perfectly. It was beautiful:

Noah got splashed by the penguin

We try to coordinate our wardrobes.

The turtle came right up to say hi to Noah

And then went on his way...

Friday, March 30, 2012

DIY Spectating is Painful.

I'm getting close to the end of pregnancy, and instincts are setting in. I want to bake and cook and freeze and clean and eat a lot of chocolate. But I don't have time (except for the chocolate-eating, which I make time for), so I bought about 4000 muffins and 2 kg of cheese from the Muffin Shop, and froze all of it instead. A couple of weeks ago I started scheduling a bunch of blog posts to post, so if the blog has a bit of a rote feel at the moment, that's why (I know it may not be working too well).

Work, light though it is, and PhD has turned out to be a bad idea for right now, 8 months pregnant. And I don't mean that in a look-at-me-I'm-doing-so-much kind of way. I mean it as Advice to Anyone Who is Listening: Don't do it. The consequences are being grumpy and tired, which are stupid consequences to take on, unless you really have to. I'm just really bad at giving up, so I'll press on until April 11, the day I hope to submit my ethics application and my midwife comes over to check out our not-very-zen home birthing environment. After April 11, I'm not sure what I'll do. Probably a lot, but hopefully not.

I just re-read this paragraph and it sounded like I'm busier than I am. Life is still very good, there's just not the space for reading or thinking or dreaming or knitting or trying new things. Which I have in common with many pregnant moms, work or PhD or not, I suspect.

Eug is working on the bathroom and I've decided DIY-spectating is really painful. If you ask Eug, I think he'd say DIY-doing is also pretty painful. Right now I'm useful only as a babysitter - wait, I guess that's called mother. We haven't showered in two weeks, so I'm really grateful that I don't wash my hair (or my body much), because despite growing up washing my hair in tubs, I look back on those days of bathtub hair washing with horror.

Here are cool pictures to reward you for making it this far:


Also Before. Our wall has a major problem with damp, but the house is over 100 years old and the bricks are 4-deep, so we're not worrying about the structural integrity of the house: it's built to last, if not to be changed. [also, the plans from the house were burned in a city fire in the 60s, so we're not bound by the usual Heritage Laws when purely hypothetically thinking about one day breaking down walls or trying to have a bath inside our bedroom]

Also Before
Lastly, the shower before

And now. The brick on the damp wall has been exposed for about 2 weeks, which is a good amount of time to allow it to dry out before starting anew. The piping is all new, though Eug reused what he could. Eug knows so much about plumbing and copper piping after this project. The washer now drains directly into the drain (rather than into the shower, which was gross when we were washing poopy diapers)
And Now- the new toilet is connected, so we can use it (yippee!), but the sink is just a placeholder as Eug will take it off and tile the wall before putting it back- unfortunately the pipes didn't have an off switch or valve, so the tap needs to be connected or we'd be flooded.

And Now. The washing machine has since been hooked up.
And Noah: Not washing diapers anymore (for the past 4 weeks, and for the next 4 weeks before Tiny blob arrives) is heaven. Elimination Communication keeps looking better.

Soon, there will be AFTER pictures! Exciting times- please stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stovetop Bone Broth

I started reading recently about how good Bone Broths can be for you, and I thought I'd try one. I managed to get about 1kg of bones from the grocery, where they cost about R5 for 1kg. I've been using chicken stock cubes for risotto, unless we have a carcass from a roast available, and when I finally looked at the ingredient list I realized I probably don't want to use the cubes unless I have to.

For 1kg of bones, you can get about 3L of very good stovetop broth (if you had a slow cooker, you could likely get a lot more) so it's pretty economical. So this is how you do it:

Start first thing in the morning.
1. Put the bones with a little oil in a roasting pan for 20 minutes or so, enough to brown them a bit.
2. Full your pot with water and any off-cuts from vegetables (not cabbage or broccoli, but onion peels, carrots, potato peels, are all good for adding flavor.)
3. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn the heat down so that it simmers all day long. In the old days, I think a good broth was left on the stove for at least 24 hours, but since we're upstairs from the kitchen, I felt hesitant to just leave the broth on for so long. I took some off for our dinner, added a little water, then I left it simmering until I went to bed- at that point I put it in glass bottles and froze them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Minimalist (Heavily used) Kitchen

Our kitchen isn't "finished" yet, but it's done in the sense that there is a lot there just won't be time for until much later. This is what it looks like on an average day (before cleaning)- a peaceful place to hang out. We spend much of our day around the table.

We have two pots and two pans, and four hooks. Perfect!
 It's a pretty good example of a minimalist kitchen, though it betrays our needs and yours may be quite different. But it isn't a kitchen that's meant to sit there and look good- It's more about function. I cook about 18-20 hot meals in the house/week, because usually breakfast is oatmeal and coffee.

This is where we keep all our non-produce food (spices, coffee, grains, oil, cups plates, appliances.
This is our kitchen table. Eug painted the stripes. When I asked him how he got the idea for uneven stripes, he said "even stripes would be too difficult". I like these much better. We do much of our work here, because it has one of only two working electrical sockets in the house (the other is used for our ADSL modem). 

Our cooking tools

The sink. I've since made a curtain to cover the doors, as they're very very old, so there's no easy fix to make them look nice.

Our deep freeze and fridge. The fridge is in what used to be a space for a coal stove (there's a chimney behind it in the living room). A cool nook, if underused right now.
So here's a list for people wanting to have a kitchen where they can cook all their meals from scratch, but they don't want, or can't afford, to equip their kitchen with too much gear:

Bar Fridge
Chest Freezer
Blender (used a lot for smoothies and soups)
Coffee Grinder (most people don't need this one)
[meat/yoghurt thermometer- very useful for making marscapone, steak, yoghurt]

Appliances we're doing without for the first time:
Slow Cooker/crockpot
Rice Cooker
Toaster/Toaster Oven
Of these, the only appliance that would be really nice to have is a slow cooker/crockpot. 

Stuff to cook with:
We have just 5 hooks, and on them 5 cooking/baking utensils

Staple Foods
Whole wheat and white bread flour
cous cous
(occasionally arborio rice)
flaxseed (called linseed in SA)
Olive Oil
Sunflower oil
Coffee (instant and beans)
Rooibos tea
Brown Sugar
Peanut butter
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
Black pepper and other spices

What we need is always shifting, but so far sanity has been keeping things to a minimum, since we don't really have cupboards. What do you consider essential?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Adult Unschooling

I've been reading about unschooling- which involves various degrees of helping your children learn without formal curriculum. One blog, Sparkling Adventures was particularly fun and inspiring to me- check it out! I wrote a while ago about my interest in (and prejudices around) homeschooling. [to be clear, I'm less attracted to unschooling in a school setting, which seems to let kids teach each other and create self-rule, and which I don't really like.]

A few weeks ago, a mom stopped me on the street with her 8-month old, and asked where I was sending Noah to school. Noah is 22 months old, so I was quite taken aback. I thought I had a few years for Eug and I to make a decision. It made me think a little more, because I want Noah to be connected with a variety of people and so on and so on, and I don't imagine myself being good at running a traditional "home classroom". I also don't necessarily want to go on a five-year wait list for the "best" government school in Cape Town.

Anyway, back at home I started to get to work. Eug and I have fairly regimented times to work- an hour here, an hour there- and there's pressure to make the absolute most of those hours, whether or not one is really in the mood. Such is work life, right? And we're hugely privileged in that we do paid work at most 5 hours/day, 3 or 4 days/week. Yet I would argue I get as much work done as I did when I was in the office for 40+ hours/week, but the work is in intense spurts, followed by other activities.

Anyway, in the midst of rushing to "get stuff done" I wondered how I go about getting the things on my long "to-do" list- whether dissertation, work, or home-related. I've been conditioned that one just buckles down and does it, sometimes without much thought. Yet what I read about unschooling made me to think a little more about what would happen if I paid attention to what I really wanted to do.

The thought that I, too, need to be unschooled a little was helpful. That is, maybe we should sometimes be productive in the ways we feel like being productive. It's a luxury, but it may be in many of our grasp(s?)

I want to pay attention to the bigger picture of who I'm becoming, not just what I need to get done today or tomorrow or next week or next year. The tasks should have that context where possible. (And I'd love your thoughts on unschooling).

A Remarkable Package

On Friday Eug and I picked up an amazing package from the post office. It made me so excited I wanted to take some photos of the unveiling.  That, and much of the gifts were up cycled, homemade, or otherwise awesome. Thank you, Stevens and Archibalds!

Baby Adams is going to have Very Good Looking Feet.

I've been dragging my minimalist feet on buying soap (though we really need it) for about 2 weeks, because I couldn't decide on what type of soap to get. Then 3 bars came from heaven (the Archibald kitchen)

Baby's got a rabbit. His first car seat toy.

New G-Diapers! woohoo!

Original Art

Noah likes the box.

And his little chick.
While I was photographing, I wanted to take a picture of these incredible shoes, made by my sister Gytha. I love them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Let's Free Up Our Creativity (On Renovating Slowly)

I'm a NY Times slideshow junkie. I love the perfect minimalist houses, the white space, the beautiful little things that they picked up in Turkey in '87. You know what I mean.

That longing for a house that measures up, that offers the perfect level of comfort, creativity, and minimalism while allowing Noah freedom to be awesome, the house that demonstrates our renovating vision and genius.

I've been gradually killing that desire, and it's been good. Eug is working on the bathroom on weekends, like the amazing visionary that he is, but I feel like if he didn't finish and our house looked insanely bad for an extended period, I'm still ok having people over. In fact, I want you to come over. And if you feel really uncomfortable with the bathroom, know that I was blogging or doing something else sortof productive (or not). I want you to be ok with mess and imperfection and even dirt, as much as I want myself to be ok with it.

In the simplicity movement, there are houses like ZeroWasteHome and others that just seem like these incredible havens of peace and design glory. And as Eug says, he got more work done when he took his laptop to Starbucks than to Burger King (sorry BK).

So we hope to make our house the best it can be. Someday. Maybe. Without the vision of a bigger better house. The whole attraction (for me, at least) of the simplicity and frugality and minimalism movements is that it frees up your life for better things- a life free of comparison and trying to keep up- which I think is in line with the good life Jesus would have for us (although I don't think you have to be a follower of Jesus to benefit). But then we get all into people's blogs and the NYTimes slideshows and Pinterest and we're right back in the world of comparison. I guess when we're following right we get inspired rather than envious.

Or maybe I'm just coping with the fact that I haven't showered in a week. Which isn't as bad as it sounds.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When Parenting is Going Well

My dissertation proposal is due in less than a week, yet our times with Noah have been extraordinarily good the last few days.

There have been occasional tantrums, but in the past week, Noah's been to the beach 3 times, he's visited the aquarium, visited horses twice, finger painted pretty much all our scrap wood, been to the beautiful Kirstenbosch gardens, spent time with his cousins, and swum in his aunt and uncle's pool. All of which he seemed to really, really enjoy. On Sunday, we were given a surprise baby shower, attended by our four friends, family, as well as people we didn't even know up to that point- how amazing is that? We left equipped with clothes, wipes, old towels, even a chest of drawers and a wicker basket.

Today, Noah collapsed into a two hour nap (where he had to be held by me). And I wanted to celebrate the fact that our family is hugely blessed to have so much freedom and so many extraordinary experiences, even in the midst of busy times.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Making a Bed From Scratch [in Cape Town]

The first iteration of our bedroom is complete. It's basic: old table, chair, small old bookshelf (with lots of baby stuff), big old cupboard (left here by previous tenants), and bed (made by Eug). 

We painted a very old decrepit chair purple. The bookshelf was attached to the wall of the kitchen (?!) so we took it down and it has our few books, albums, and all Tiny Blob's blankets, wipes and diapers.
The tenants left a broken cupboard- we painted the inside of the cupboard red and removed the doors. It's big enough for Eug and my clothes, as well as our file, toiletries for Tiny Blob, and a growing collection of Tiny blob's stuff.
An Almost King Size Bed:
Now to the exciting stuff. In our search for a bed in South Africa, we became very discouraged that there wasn't a lot of thought about what was in the mattresses. Salespeople focused solely on "which bed makes you feel good?" They insisted memory foam and latex were the same thing. It isn't. Latex is made from rubber (which can be both sustainable and make a good, healthy mattress), memory foam is a kind of plastic.

South Africa doesn't produce natural latex mattresses. The only latex in the country is imported by Green Coil, and is exorbitantly expensive. When we went into the store and asked about the cost of a topper (2 inches of latex to go on top of an existing mattress), the salesman (picture Captain America) explained that a topper would be a way of making up for past mistakes. Past mistakes being not buying a natural latex bed. (?!! Is it a mistake not to spend R17,000 on a mattress?)

So we decided to order foam ourselves- at least we know what we're getting, there's no heavily glued chip foam filler, and it's cheaper: 7cm of Memory Foam on top of 13cm of dense, firm foam. Plastic, yes, but no glue, no filler, no fire retardant. Better than the best quality foam mattress in the showroom, as far as we could tell. The factory seemed responsible and well managed. We ordered a basic cover that encloses the foam, and is waterproof.

Then Eug made a bed frame. I love that the bed seems to float, and that we can store things underneath if we have to. The bed frame is basically 4 pieces of hardwood, standing on top of 3 pieces of South African pine (One lying in the middle of the bed, two lying perpendicular). The mattress rests on pine slats.

It's beautiful, supportive, simple and comfortable. We're hoping to remove Noah's bedroom door and make a headboard with it.

Feeling much more confident after making the bed, Eug and I decided that the corner of the bedroom could serve as an extension of the bed, and be the equivalent of a crib while Tiny Blob needs to sleep with us (otherwise there's no corner where the bed actually fits and where he'd be totally safe.)

Eug built support slats that rest on the wall and the bed frame (no space for him to fall into cracks), and I went out and bought a piece of dense, firm foam that fits the space exactly. I covered it with waterproof material from Fabric World on Wynberg Main Road. It allows the baby a space where he's slightly removed, and where he's in no danger of being smothered by our duvet. 

I'll write in a few weeks about research on SIDS and the ways in which I think it's possible to embrace the spirit of the multitude of U.S. laws around crib mattresses, drop side cribs, stuff in the crib, strangulation hazards and the like, without getting totally paranoid and buying new things unnecessarily. 

A space of his own.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Apple and This American Life

Would this picture be different if my Mac was made in the U.S.?
A few weeks ago I listened to an episode of This American Life on my MacBook Air, where journalist Mike Daisey described horrendous conditions in a factory that produced Apple products.

This past week, This American Life had a retraction episode, after it was discovered that some of the important details of the episode were falsified.

The initial episode, and the subsequent retraction, made me think anew about my status as a Mac consumer, and my status as a consumer in general (I won't talk about the latter here, because I have had a slightly easier time navigating those choices. Yes- I find the decisions around technology harder than clothes, baby products, appliances, and food. Perhaps combined).

Both stories got at some of the complexity of what it means to produce a product like an iPhone, iPad, etc. There's low pay and paper-thin margins and somehow it translates to incredible efficiency. But the story of the factory ended up not having the clear cut "bad guys", which is always unsettling and unsatisfying. Even the reporter wasn't maliciously telling lies, it seemed. The factories are bad, but not bad in a simplistic way. Bad in a complicated way. Bad in the ways that are tangled up in U.S. and Chinese economic systems. The villain was hard to pinpoint. The villain might be me and you. It might be the people seeking big profits. It might be the people just trying to get by as managers or as workers. It might be that the system is bigger than the sum of it's parts, which doesn't really make sense.

I feel the tension; I love Apple products. My MacAir is a joy. Incredibly light, simple, beautiful. I'd be happy to pay more for my Mac to have it responsibly produced.  Yet I sense that that's not the choice- Apple production in China is an integral part of what Apple is. As Apple became more evil as a company, my love for its products grew.

I haven't found a satisfying answer to the choice I do have. Technology connects, and it isn't like a stove or fridge where you can buy second hand and keep it until the very end. Eug and I have 4 gadgets in our lives (little MacAir, Big MacAir, Kindle, 1st generation iPod touch). There's a lot of things we don't have, which I won't list here. When my iPod touch finally dies, I won't replace it. But my MacAir cannot be upgraded- I invested in the best version of the small MacAir with longevity in mind.

I'd love to hear your thoughts as you navigate these choices.
In other news, here's to total abandon with finger paints
And oversized gowns that Noah insists on wearing (with nothing underneath) to bed

Friday, March 16, 2012

Note to self on Baby Sleep

In sad news, my rabbit pants have a massive rip in the knee (see how if you only have one pants they become big news?) They were given to me after Noah's birth (in that "in between stage" one has between childbirth and the three months after) by my mom-in-law, who had used them for yoga for several years. I wore them at least half the week for 2 years. So they have had a good run. I'm working on repairing them, but they're going to need a patch. Any patching tips?

This is a post to remind myself when I start to freak out about Tiny Blob not sleeping:

Noah didn't sleep well, but this challenge to parenting was balanced in all sorts of ways. Noah's almost two now, and he usually sleeps through the night in his own room. He's only done so for about 2 months. We still usually stay with him until he's asleep, or very close to sleep. We're working on it, but it's pretty low priority. We probably did almost everything wrong, and he still sleeps now.

With Tiny, Blob, I want to remember that two years is not infinity. Remember that my going back to work totally messed up Noah's brilliant sleep. He never slept well after that. We tried everything except leaving him to cry. And to be honest, there was a fair amount of crying involved nonetheless. We tried making him sleep in his crib, we tried Elizabeth Pantley, we tried not breastfeeding him to sleep. We ended up with his cot mattress next to our mattress on the floor, and sometimes even that offended him. Some things seemed to help (not feeding him every time he woke up, asking Eug to try soothing him first, not changing his diaper in the night), but the power struggles made us fear the hours of 6-8pm. Upheaval was our enemy. And we had a lot of it: 3 moves (two within Boston, one across continents), 3 months of traveling, an additional 3 international trips and 2 US trips.

This time around, maybe Tiny blob will sleep, probably not. It's probably ok. He will sleep eventually. I want to tell myself not to do anything that will make me feel icky afterwards. It's not the end of the world if he breastfeeds to sleep, and if I can persuade him not to, so much the better. I'll try not to worry if he leads sometimes. It's also ok if he cries just a little, if I can't handle him for one more second. He doesn't have a crib, but if he seems ready to sleep further from us, I want to let him try. And bring him back if it turns out he didn't really want to after all.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Starting Small

When we first arrived in South Africa, I wrote about being constantly asked for money, food, clothing, and other things. Here in Cape Town, I don't know the landscape. Who am I to judge? We know that we have been blessed with a lot, and that we don't deserve what we have- we work and are frugal but we have more than plenty of people who work harder and are more frugal.

So I went from not giving anything to anyone, to giving everything to everyone. The latter lasted about 2 or 3 weeks, until I noticed I was unconsciously avoiding having cash in my pockets, sitting in the kitchen (away from the road) rather than in the living room (where I could hear the beggar at my gate knocking), and walking a route that was quieter.

I'm totally unable to connect with people I hoped I wasn't so different from. There's a fake connection that's easy- you need something, times are hard, oh yes they are (as if I know), oh I'm so sorry, here you go, bless you, no, God bless you.

In Boston, we did a course on God's take on giving (and jubilee and justice) called Lazarus at the Gate. The story of Lazarus at the Gate is, in crude summary, the story of a rich man who presumably never noticed that there was a poor man, Lazarus, lying at his gate. They go to heaven (Lazarus) and hell (the rich man) and a major take-home of the story is that God cares about the suffering of the poor. One thing I seldom thought about in the context of that story was that the rich man and Lazarus may have been quite different. I generally thought of it being me, in different circumstances, at the gate. The challenge is that life experiences really change us. We become hardened or proud or addicted or angry or guilty, often because of our wealth or lack thereof. And we cannot connect across our pride or guilt or addiction.

Jesus is able to see the beggar and the rich man rightly. And if I managed to break through the pretense and guilting and pain (on both sides), maybe there's still connection to be had. It's very risky, and it seems silly to seek connection when someone needs food or money (you shouldn't say "be healthy and well fed" and ignore that you have the means to provide for those needs). It's so hard to live justly in a deeply unequal society, to even know what's more real than the scripts given to white liberal returnee and Obs beggar.

The two or three weeks when we gave whatever someone asked felt miraculous and good- it felt innocent- and I'm sorry that the sense of scarcity returned.

Now, as we think about how to give here in SA and in the U.S., I really hope we can learn how to see people rightly and break out of the roles we force on each other. I hope we can wrestle with systemic change and not give out of guilt. But I hope I can still notice the person in front of me and allow the occasional miracle; maybe do something radical and invite them in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Noah gets a Box

We received a beautiful care package from Connie, with real instant noodles and CVS Sourworms (at our request) and since Noah cannot (should not) partake, he is going around the house in the care package box. He likes wearing his bike helmet, on the off chance Eug will take him out on his bike seat.

Thank you so much Connie!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recycled Soda Bottle Self-Watering Containers

About a year ago I found this photo of a beautiful hanging garden using soda bottles, and I was inspired. As soon as I arrived in South Africa, I made a few containers and started to try them out. What I found was that they dried out very quickly in the Cape Town summer, and was virtually impossible for them to get enough sun and enough water. So for the South African context, I didn't find them practical (if you did, please chime in!). I could see them being really good in the context of a tropical climate with daily afternoon rain, as rain would likely be ideal for watering.

So I looked at other, somewhat less beautiful options for hanging soda bottles in such a way that I could water once an evening, or even less frequently. With a toddler, jobs, and a prospective new baby, container gardening has to allow for the occasional evening of meltdown.

This is what I've found successful so far. I cut the bottle in half, place a rag through the mouth of the bottle to help with water transfer, and cut some holes in the bottle. The top half sits in the bottom half, and I hang them using recycled electrical wire, which I've found works a lot better than rope or string or laundry line.

Most successful in the containers have been strawberries (who seem to be thriving), basil, rosemary, and a cherry tomato. Next season, I'll try many more cherry tomatoes. Right now I have about 20 containers. There's space on the burglar guards for many more- probably up to a hundred. Whoa.

Which is the great advantage to this method of gardening: it's virtually infinitely scalable. We can build up hundreds of plants, gradually. The major initial cost is potting soil, which adds up fast. Once that initial outlay is done, the costs are minimal, as the worm bin can take care of reinvigorating the soil.

Here's some other pictures of our lives at the moment:

Our pomegranate tree. Next year, it may bear fruit!

We learned that the super expensive Boulders beach near Simonstown doesn't need to be expensive (though paying at all to go onto a beach feels wrong, I know): Cape Town residents are permitted to buy a "Green Card", which costs R85 for 12 visits per year. You get to enjoy a really beautiful beach, and hang out (even swim!) with the penguins. We made sure Noah didn't get any closer that this.
Noah shows his sand sculpture.

Our neighbor introduced us to Oude Molen ecovillage, which is barely 5 minutes drive from our house (and is also on the Pinelands train stop). It's amazing that there is this huge swath of land, with many horses  and chickens, so close to the city. In the background is Devil's Peak and Table Mountain- we're just east of the center of town. You can visit for free- there's a cafe where you can buy food or get local honey, jam and fresh bread. We're hoping to interview some of the people that form part of the cooperative in the near future.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Give Him a Stone

There's this verse about God's provision where Jesus says to his followers, "Which of you, when his son asks for bread, would give him a stone" (Matt 7:9). The point being, even sort of weak parents know how to give the good stuff to their kids, how much more does God know how to give us the good stuff? And while I'm not going to self-bash here, I've been thinking about God giving good gifts to me (noticing them), and giving good gifts to Noah and our future baby.

So I do sometimes give Noah "stones" rather than bread. Excuse the extended metaphor: I make things a bit complicated- does Noah really need bread? Or will bread spoil him? Would a stone be character building? Granted, I feel some guilt over getting rid of all his toys in Boston, but I really don't think that was too much of a big deal in the scheme of things. The toys were probably neither bread nor stones. It's more in the day-to-day, there are things that genuinely are "bread" to him: my time, good food, unabashed affection, fun experiences with loved ones.

I get fearful that I won't have enough supply- enough time, enough good food, enough special experiences. That I need to ration and not raise expectations too high. There are other things at play here, but I want to step into the simplicity of simply trying to give Noah what he needs (and sometimes just wants), as best I can. And giving Tiny blob what he needs, as best I can (which is a little tougher to define because he's currently still in utero). 

I think sometimes God gives us good stuff because we ask for it, not because it's necessarily going to contribute to our long term growth and such. For example, Noah's totally obsessed with fountains, and I find myself considering buying a water feature (in, uh, five years time) even though I find them mildly ridiculous. I think sometimes God gives us the silly water fountain, because he understands what it means to us in a way that noone else does. Here's to being the parent who understands our kid's needs and wants, and being that child, also.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

South African Beef Stew

Ok, so not super South African, but for the cut of meat. But I'll market it as South African! Actually, the really South African version needs to be cooked over a fire, but I just cooked mine on our stove.

Potatoes, an onion tomatoes, carrots, potjiekos (stew) meat, some water; curry powder, ginger powder, rosemary, and a stock cube or two. It's a good idea to start the meat first, and cook it for a while. I kept the stew on the stove for about 2 hours on low-medium heat, and I think it got much better in the hour after.

It's a really simple comfort food, and I'm looking forward to enjoying it in winter. I'm surprised by how much you can just follow your sense of taste, rather than focus on a recipe. Just try the ingredients you have on hand (root vegetables are good), and have some stew meat in the fridge or freezer.

Good with a bit of sourdough bread

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fridays Out, and Our First Trip

Before getting the car this weekend, we'd borrow my parent's car every Friday (or take the train to the aquarium) and go exciting places. A little while ago we went to Snoekies, a famous old fish and chips shop in Hout Bay (Which has since opened branches other places). 

We spent this past Friday looking for a car, and then on Saturday, finding ourselves new car owners, we took our first trip. Who would have thought that 15 minutes drive from our house, we get this:

We basically just drove a few minutes North, first on the M5 then on the M27. When the M27 seemed close to the beach, we found an inlet to park, and discovered that we were in Milnerton. Noah loved it, and it's close enough that we didn't need to do tons of prep to get out of the house (we just stayed for an hour or so)

The MyCity Bus does go to Milnerton, so there's hope that in a few years, it'll be practical and accessible to take a trip without the car.