02 March 2010

Baking While Baby Sleeps

It has been nearly a week since Matthias and I tried used controlled crying with Eva.  From my last post, I am sure you gathered just how awful I felt about doing it. I am happy to report she didn't wake up the next morning to tell me what a horrible mother or what a failure at attachment parenting I am. As a matter a fact, she has only been waking once between midnight and 1am to let out a few brief whimpers and cries (to which my DH promptly responds). At least she can still nurse to sleep at bedtime and I don't plan on changing that for a while.

In a strangely sadistic way, I enjoyed those silent moonlit moments we shared in the middle of the night. But I also know I (and so many other mothers) cannot function without sleep. Thanks to all you who acknowledge this.

We have been putting Eva to bed now at 9pm to prevent her waking up at 5am. Matthias had been taking the morning shift, but it is so much more enjoyable when we can all share some time together playing before bedtime. After putting her down tonight, I whipped up a batch of some super easy, no bake Swedish coffee pastries called Chokladbollar. We have a play date tomorrow and I didn't have any 'biscuits' to serve with the tea. This is the perfect recipe for the busy new mom (or anyone else wanting something sweet really quick):


  • dL (3 1/4 cups) oats
  • 3 dL (1 1/4 cups) sugar
  • Tbsp (90 mL) cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract, added with the coffee)
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) butter or margarine
  • 6 Tbsp (90 mL) cold coffee
  • flaked coconut or pearl sugar

Remove butter from fridge to bring to room temperature or pop in the microwave for a minute to soften. Brew and chill the coffee (chilling optional in my opinion). Mix all the dry ingredients and the add the butter vanilla mixture using a potato masher (it really works) or your bare hands until the dough has a smooth consistency. Form into balls, dip in the remain coffee and roll in the coconut or sugar. Chill or freeze before serving. 

These little Swedish beauties are irresistible. Enjoy!

26 February 2010

Rain and Ferberization

It is raining today in Manchester. And to many of you that doesn't really come as a surprise. But it is, at least for this winter, an unusual occurrence. There have been so many gloriously sunny days and so much one-day-snow that the normal gloom of the place is nearly non-existent - except for today.

It is cold and wet and I don't even dare dawn my galoshes (wellies that is) and bundle my baby to make the pilgrimage to the post office. I want to stay inside, snuggled up in bed and drinking tea and dozing off occasionally.

The gloomy weather seems fitting today. I feel gloomy. It was a long night and I had to do something I was dead against the last nine months, if not more: letting my sweet baby scream her head of until she fell asleep. Some people call this cry-it-out (CIO), experts call it Ferberization after the man who developed the technique. The two actually differ in that Ferberization is more of a controlled crying with periodical checking and soothing of the baby, whereas pure CIO has parents leave the baby to cry until it falls asleep.

Not unlike my visions of a completely natural childbirth with no pain medication, I also bought into the ideal of never letting baby cry from all those books on Attachment Parenting I gravitate to. But like many ideals one has pre-parenthood (cloth diapers and no TV to be exact), I had to let this one go too.

It was an excruciating hour and a half. I was sweating, crying and could have downed an entire bottle of Bach's Rescue Remedy like a shot of Jagermeister. Yes, it was that bad. The physiology of a mother is amazing and last night is proof of how survival of the species is preserved. It took every ounce of will power not to immediately run into her room, cradle her in my arms and nurse her. But I have to sleep. And since I already prone to martyrdom, I don't need another opportunity to crucify myself for the sake of someone else's well-being. However, this is totally against the biological inclinations of a mother.

Mothers are also creatures of habit, who, must learn to constantly readjust their approach while rearing their children. Just when you think you have it all figured out, your baby makes a complete 180 and you are forced to rethink the way you have done things, sometimes from the beginning. And that is where I stand. I no longer have a newborn who needs to be nursed every two hours. She is growing so quickly and I can't hold back the hands of time. Letting grow means letting go. And it breaks my heart a little every day and a lot on others.

I feel really disappointed, that yet again, I wasn't able to stand by my convictions in the face of practicality. Convenience and ease have eroded my ideals. The cloth diapers were the first thing to go. Disposables are just too damn convenient. Then, the eco disposables made way for the store brand disposables at half the price. Next came the television which was constantly on everywhere we stayed in States for six weeks. And then of course, the jars of baby food which Eva seems to like them better anyway. The one time I did cook up a batch of baby delicacies, she only liked two of six things I toiled over for an entire weekend from some baby food guru's cookbook. Finally, there is the dreaded wipe-bath. Other mothers will know exactly what I am talking about.

24 February 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

I think it is just shy on one year since I have actually blogged. One year. That is a long time considering writing courses through my veins. But my muse (and my knitting needles) had to make way for a beautiful baby girl who was born in June of last year. One could say that all my creative juices were flowing to one place and one place only. But that only just sounds nice.

The truth is that I wanted to be selfish and enjoy the last months I had left as a childless woman doing whatever my 5-year-old heart fancied at any given moment: sleeping in, staying in my pyjamas all day; knitting, reading and not moving from the couch until my husband got home from work at night.

And once again I find myself in front of my laptop now that a nap routine has finally been established. Since I have a 90-minute window, I have to work and write fast. It forces me to use my time wisely. Having a baby does. 

I am conceptualizing a new blog about something I can write about every day and that I am actually 'qualified' (I hate that word btw) to write about: Germany. This week I will be working on its layout with Steph, a good friend of mine at The Creative Identity. As soon as it is live, you can expect a link. Much love to you.

03 February 2009

Pregnancy Changes

Pregnancy is truly a miraculous thing - not only because of the wonder of new life growing inside you, but also because of the miraculous growth one goes through physicall and emotionally. 

All the sudden, I am finding the motivation to do all sorts of projects which I have nicely managed to put of for so long. The universe seems to be playing along, too. In the same week, we are getting our not-so-urgent heating problems fixed and some needed paint work done. 

My bump is growing. I pee twenty times a day. I have to eat every three hours. I cannot sleep on my back and have to lie on my side with a pillow between my legs. Bending over is not as easy or pleasant as it once was. It is a phase of constant change, or rather improvement, inside and out.

I think what scared me the most about pregnancy and motherhood was the inevitable change in my life. I seriously resented being told how much my life would change after having children. I always heard it as some kind of finger-shaking comment intended to make me reevalute my selfish, immature perspectives. And you do when you are responsible for another human being's life, but I still did not like it. When reflecting on this, I realized I wasn't reacting to the comment. I was reacting to the idea of change.

I haven't always welcomed change, mostly because I have always equated change with the negative. Change, though, is the nature of life and is itself neither bad nor good.  This transformation is one of the most exciting I have ever been through (and I have had my fair share of drastic life changes simply due to the expat life). This process has so far taught me one very important thing about life: Embracing change is in fact easier than fighting or fearing it.

05 January 2009

New Year's Nesting

It was a particularly long hiatus, friends. I admit it. I didn't write for over two months and I didn't even tell you I was going to have a break. How rude. And my Adsense results are proof. The truth is that I really hadn't planned to disappear. I decided to let my muse be in charge of 'leisure' writing and she, unfortunately for my blogging, got pregnant and very distracted. My professional writing muse was, on the contrary, very busy pumping out PAID articles for Knitting  magazine here in the UK, the first of which appears in this month's issue, being an amazing virtual assistant to talented language and travel writer, Susanna Zaraysky , and writing art show reviews for the burgeoning new Manchester arts and culture magazine HIVE .

Yes, you did read correctly. My hubby and I decided to undertake on the greatest act of creativity humanly possible: making a new life. I am now in my 18th week and constantly amazed at what is happening to my once tiny body. I now have a surprising appetite for meat and meat products (to the delight of my German spouse), the urge to reorganize closets, cupboards and entire rooms (because I won't feel like doing it with an infant and a manchild to care for) and some seriously raging hormones (which I usually display as unabashed bitchiness and aggression). Yes, pregnancy is an interesting and entertaining journey.

With a baby on the way, there is always inevitably some shuffling of furniture, rooms and designated spaces to accommodate the precious new family member. To kick off 2009, I channeled some of my hormonally fueled aggression into preparing my new work space.  It just seemed to fit with turning over a new leaf, resolutions (which I never make by the way; I only set my intentions and create possibilities), etc. I have moved from the desk in our dressing area (which connects our bedroom to our en suite bathroom) to my craft room. Matthias will be moving his workspace there since he spends far less time at the home PC and the 'office' will become the nursery. I organized all my supplies (which were augmented by the addition of my mother-in-law's sewing machine and all of granny's loot to go along with it) and found a new home for all my wool and yarn so that I can have my office supplies nearby. It is brighter than the space upstairs and I can feel my creative juices flowing more easily here, surrounded by all my crafty things. To the right is a shot of where I am sitting as I write this post. It is a small corner, but it is my corner and it is organized. Would you have expected anything less?

I also started 2009 by focusing my intentions and creating possibilities for myself and my life for the following year. I had been stewing in a psychological sludge since November which I had to shed in order to accomplish anything today, let alone this year. I have again embraced the importance of personal writing as an essential ingredient to my sanity, effectiveness, and keeping an empowered context in my life. This morning I used my morning pages (see posts tagged Artist's Way) to cull all the nasty, energy sucking thoughts that had been bogging me down and to articulate my intentions and possibilities for the New Year. Among them are the possibilities of being peaceful, courageous and a loving mother; as well as the intention to sell 4 more articles before June and market my book idea/find representation successfully by year end.

Finally, it snowed here in Manchester overnight. It is the first time I have seen snow so close in the UK. Here is a picture of Matthias getting ready to leave:

It wasn't much, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless. I will be back with some more retrospective updates about my trip back home to Seattle, Christmas in Germany, New Years in Scotland and all the sordid details of pregnancy.

29 September 2008

Fiber and Needles - It's a Lifestyle

If you are reading this and thinking, 'Oh God. Britt is shooting up Metamucil', then you have a strange sense of imagination, my friend. No, I am talking about fiber of the wooly type and the needles used to create fabulous garments from such fiber. And it is truly a lifestyle- for me and many others.

This weekend, I was out at an open house for a small company that sells undyed, natural wool yarn from a special breed of British sheep, the Bluefaced Leicester. There were several independant yarn and dying companies there peddling their wares, while we ladies (and several gents I must add) ate scones, drank tea and knitted or spun the wool of our choice.

This particular Saturday was probably the last of our ten-day stretch of Indian Summer- like weather: mild with a clear blue sky and a light breeze. It is really strange to then go to the shops and see nothing but 'Father Christmas' and 'Christmas Cake' (that's Santa and Fruit Cake to us Yanks).

The day was also great because I got to reconnect with a couple gals from my knitting group who I haven't seen in over two months on account of German visitors and staycations. I also got some hardcore networking in for my writing ambitions - I passed out a bunch of my new business cards and polished my elevator pitch which will come in quite handy at the big trade show in London next month. 

I also got to meet several ladies that also use the same online social network created just for knitters and crocheters called Ravelry. Every member has an avatar and moniker, neither of which always reflect the person's actual identity. We all were buttons with our monikers on them so we can speak to each other in person as easily as we chat together online. Strange, but beautiful nonetheless.

And using the utmost restraint a fiber-crazed knitting junkie is capable of, I only walked away with nearly one kilometer (a one-kilo spool) of superwash sock yarn (undyed) and a starter natural dye kit. After all, I blow my fiber budget before going to the big show.

Another episode in the life of a fiber and needle addict. And do I ever love it.

26 September 2008

Why American Politics Nauseate Me

What happens if you take a blithering idiot and 1) elect him or her to an important office such as state governor and 2) nominate this person (behind whom is 'nothing but panic and emptiness ') for the vice presidential candidacy?

The answer is Sarah Palin. And she could be our next VP, or even worse, take over the presidency if John McCain were to die in office (which is not to be excluded as a possibility, seriously).

What is the McCain election team thinking? What are GOP supporters thinking? This women has obviously suffered severe brain damage from prolonged exposure to snow and periods of nearly 24-hour daylight. Sarah Palin is probably the best George W. Bush ersatz I can think of. At least he can stick to concise and utterly empty BS rhetoric (well, two-thirds of the time).

As my good ol' home town weekly indie paper, The Stranger, so astutely equated with a passage from EM Foster's Howard's End, if the McCain/Palin ticket were to fall, one would only find "panic and emptiness". One thing is clear, Gov. Palin would be the perfect puppet president to dance at the tugs of special interest strings.

I think we can agree politicians do several things exceedingly well: speak publically and lie whilst doing so. That is enough to sicken a person with faith, albeit it severly waning, in democratic ideals. Then there is the plastic glitz and glamour that has turned American politics, especially the presedential race, into an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show. But what really turns my stomach is the fact that any old schmuck with the cognitive ability of an inchworm can be elected or nominated to the most powerful offices in our once great land. We have just had eight years of this crap and now a large percentage want to elect potentially more of the same?

This folks, in case you were wondering, is one of the many reasons America is ridiculed the world over and is now forced to confront one of the greatest crises we have ever faced. Your vote and your dollar count! Use them wisely.

Thanks to Fritinancy's post for inspiring this rant.