L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Thai Basil Beef

This week – THAI BASIL BEEF WITH PEANUT SALSA (p. 213)

My Asian food cravings are still going strong (nope, not pregnant, just hungry…), so this week we tried the Thai Basil Beef dish and, to be honest, even before I read the description, Tieghan had me at “Peanut Salsa”…

Ingredients –

  • Rice Noodles
  • Ground Beef
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Limes
  • Salted peanuts
  • Fresno peppers
  • Onions
  • Sesame Oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Carrots
  • Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Low-Sodium soy sauce
  • Mint leaves

Difficulty level –

I prepped the veggies beforehand, so that wasn’t too bad when it came time to assemble things but it did require putting the different ingredients into various bowls, so the clean up was longer than I like on weeknights… In terms of the actual process of making the meal, in my opinion, this is another beginner level dish. The only “criticism” I would make is that once you start cooking you do have to stay by the stove the whole time. There’s only about 5 minutes between each step and you need to be prepping for the next stage so not much time to chase after (I mean… “attend to”) the kids while making this.

Price –

I only had the sesame oil, soy sauce, carrots and onions on hand, so I spent approximately $40 on this dish. I will say, however, that there was quite a bit leftover so Paolo and I were each able to get a second meal from this recipe.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

  • Different types of rice noodles? There was about 5 different packs of noodles in the grocery store and they all said “rice noodles”!
  • What are fresno peppers? Similar in look to the jalapeño peppers but with less heat.

Alterations to the Recipe –

The ingredients are pretty straightforward for this one so there wasn’t much to change. The only substitute I made was with the noodle size – the picture in the cookbook shows a thinner noodle but I opted for the large noodle and don’t regret it (it soaked up the flavours perfectly!).

Verdict –

I have an unexplainable desire to change my verdict from my past reviews just to be different but I can’t – this is again 100% a make-again dish. The recipe was delicious when eaten fresh but just as good (Paolo said it was better) reheated the next day. Plus, in addition to extras, there was lots of peanut salsa leftover which I mixed in with some plain chicken breast and rice for a tastier lunch during the week.

L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Cheesy Poblano and Bacon Quesadilla

This week – CHEESY POBLANO AND BACON QUESADILLA (p. 49)

This week, I was looking for something from the HBH book that required a little less prep time. I figured quesadillas would likely go over well with our preschooler’s picky habits and the ingredients list was nice and short. Technically, this dish is under the “Apperizers & Sides” chapter, so I knew I was going to have make another side (I made a big salad) for Paolo and me but it was the perfect amount for Theo. It would also probably be just the right amount of food if we were to have this for lunch instead of dinner.

Ingredients –

  • Thick-cut bacon
  • Peppers
  • Flour tortillas
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Baby Spinach
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salsa

Difficulty level –

Once again, Tieghan didn’t lie – this recipe is SUPER simple. It is definitely a weeknight-approved quick meal. If you’re able to find shredded pepper Jack cheese than it’s even quicker to prep.

Price –

The bacon, peppers, tortillas and spinach are staples in our home, so I didn’t need to purchase those. I just had to purchase the cheddar cheese and I opted for the store-made salsa as opposed to making our own. So, in total, I only had to spend about $13 for this meal and, again, the cheese and salsa will be good for other meals/snacks.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe

  • Difference between bell peppers and poblano peppers? (Poblano peppers would have made it a bit more smoky).

Alterations to Recipe –

The recipe includes the option to make your own Pickled Jalapeño Pineapple Salsa. We’re not really fans of pineapples in our meals, so I opted for the traditional salsa (store bought) instead. I also used the bell peppers that I had on hand as opposed to the poblano peppers that the recipe calls for.

Verdict –

This is likely to be another staple in our house. So easy to make PLUS everything is made in one skillet (less dishes is always a win!). There wasn’t enough for any leftovers, so this is a one-and-done dish.

Making our Design Choices Fit our Family

In our previous Production (i.e.: tract) homes, we inherited whatever floor plan the builder designed and basically worked with what was there. We’ve never had a dedicated mudroom, a proper foyer, enough outdoor lighting or even a garage large enough to fit two cars. While our homes never lacked square footage, we were still required with each home to adapt to the space. So when we were designing our custom home, our main goal was to ensure we create a space that fits our family and not the other way around. We learned pretty quickly what wasn’t working for us in our past houses and, below, are some of the design changes we made this time around while building this home with our family’s needs in mind.

No Sink in the Island

Photo credit: Monika Hibbs

I feel like this first choice is a controversial one with two distinct trains of thought – you’re either team for sink in the island or team against…

In our previous homes, the sink was always integrated in the island. We were definitely team “FOR” sink in island until we lived with it for a few years. The counter around the sink was always wet from splatter and the space never looked clean.

So this time, the sink will be by the window! Our island is smaller than our last (also a design choice since we found we didn’t need another 9-foot island) and we think it’ll now be the perfect size for hosting (whenever we can host) and for our little family, plus it’ll make keeping the kitchen looking clean that much easier.

Toilets with Concealed Trapways

Ok, so maybe jumping from the kitchen to the toilet is not the best segue but I am actually really excited about this choice! Have you ever bent over to clean all of the creases in a standard toilet? Yes, so you understand! Now imagine having two little boys with their own bathroom and you will WISH you had a curve-less toilet – one wipe across and done!

Luca is obviously still way too small to start thinking about how often he will “miss the bowl” when learning to pee standing up (and, lets be real, all the boys/man in my house will forever have moments where they miss the bowl, even after years of practice…) but Theo is at the age where he thinks its fun to try standing. He’s got pretty good aim but there are times where I wonder if there was more that landed on the floor than in the bowl… So toilets with concealed trapways, while slightly more expensive than the standard ones, was a non-negotiable for me this time around!

Joint Mudroom and Laundry Room

This choice came as an unexpected “non-choice” for me. While we’ve never had a dedicated mudroom, our laundry rooms have always been a decent sized, designated space. So when we started drawing out our floorplans, I had always envisioned two separate rooms but budget and square footage constraints meant that we had to combine the two.

When we were planning out our layout, Theo was not even three years old and hadn’t yet discovered the world of sand, dirt, mud and puddles. Fast forward 18 months and I literally have to get him to undress outside our current rental home before he comes in because of how filthy he is! Add to the fact that, eventually, Luca will be joining the mess and I am now so grateful to know that they can come in through the garage straight into the mud/laundry room and put away their dirty clothes before even entering the main living space.

Inspiration photo by Kate Marker Interiors

Cold AND Hot Water in the Garage

Paolo has always enjoyed detailing his car. He puts on his headphones and spends hours scrubbing every crevice of his car (and I usually get him to do mine too!), then, he tops it off with pressure washing the outside at the end. Last summer, since we were all stuck at home due to the pandemic, Theo also started spending a lot of time outside amusing himself with different water games. The one con with any of our outdoor water activities (aside from watering the grass) was that the water was always freezing cold!

So this time around, when we discussed plumbing with our builder, Paolo’s first request was that the hose bib in the garage have both hot and cold water! His hands won’t freeze when he’s washing our cars, Theo’s lips won’t turn blue when playing with his water table and, as for me, I’ll be able to hose down my children (see point above!) when they come home messy without feeling as though I am torturing them!

Access to Basement from Garage

This last one was not a must but a strong want for our family. Given Paolo’s shift work schedule, he sometimes comes home in the middle of the night and is not yet ready to go to sleep. We decided to add a staircase from the garage down to the finished basement so that he can go straight down to watch TV after work and not risk waking the family (and the dog!) by walking past the main living space.

We also figured, from watching how my nephews (aged 21 and 15) go straight to the basement of their own house with their friends, that Theo and Luca will one day appreciate being able to go straight downstairs with their buddies without having to engage in the always awkward parent conversation that would be required if they all came through the front door…

While I’m sure that even with a custom home there will be things that we wish we had thought of or designed differently, I am really excited for the lessons we’ve learned in past homes and the opportunity we now have to make this house fit our family’s needs.

L2C Challenge – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – Korean Beef with Yum Yum Sauce

The first book in my Learn to Cook Challenge is by the amazing Tieghan Gerard, who is the chef behind Half Baked Harvest. I first learned of Tieghan when I stumbled upon her Instagram account (@halfbakedharvest) and it was love at first sight! She has almost 3 million (!!!) followers and posts daily recipes/how-to stories. I own both her books – Half Baked Harvest and Half Baked Harvest Super Simple – and for this month’s challenge I picked the Super Simple cookbook because, well, my skill set would not allow me to do anything above the “super simple” level!

My first recipe – KOREAN BEEF WITH YUM YUM SAUCE (p. 214)

I won’t lie, we have been ordering out a lot lately (trying to support local during the pandemic and eating our feelings about all of these lockdowns…). Each time we seem to gravitate towards Asian-inspired cuisine so it was no surprise that I chose the Korean Beef as my first recipe to make from this book.

Ingredients –

  • Flank Steak
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Rice
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Gochujang
  • Sesame seeds
  • Tahini
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chili powder

Difficulty level

Tieghan was not lying, this recipe was simple. The only thing I would say, however, is that I found it to be time consuming. Others with more experience chopping vegetables and slicing meat could easily breeze through this recipe but for the newbies like me, it took me about 40 minutes just to get all of the ingredients ready.

Price

I paid about $75 to get everything I needed for this recipe, which is wayyy more than I wanted to spend. However, you have to keep in mind that I am starting with a blank slate so there were a lot of pantry items that I purchased that I will be able to reuse many times over in other recipes.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe

  • What is gochujang and Where do I find it in the grocery store?
  • How to cook rice?
  • How to toast sesame seeds (I couldn’t find any ready-made toasted sesame seeds, do they even exist?)?

Alterations to Recipe –

I followed this recipe exactly as described and I think it turned out as intended (although my food pictures will never be as beautiful as Tieghan’s). In the future, I will probably substitute the mushroom and spinach side with another vegetable. My whole family is not particularly a fan of mushrooms to begin with and the mix of spinach, mushrooms and olive oil tasted like dirt to me…

Verdict

Right off the bat, I can vouch that I will be making this recipe many times again! The beef, rice and sauce were a hit with everyone, including Theo (the four year old chicken fingers lover)! The meal was delicious served fresh and just as good reheated the next day for lunch. Plus, we had left over Yum Yum sauce that we used as a dip with some veggies.

Learn To Cook Challenge

While I sit in our rental home, reviewing the millwork drawings for our future kitchen and dreaming of the day I will cook our first meal in our new home, something dawns on me – I have all of these dreams of having big family dinners but… I don’t actually cook!

I mean, I put food together that we consume daily but, often times, I’m defrosting something that we have frozen (soups, pasta sauce, etc.), adding some vegetables and a carb source and calling it “dinner”. Nothing I make actually amounts to “cooking”…

At the same time, I have an unexplained obsession with buying beautiful cookbooks! I even go as far as tabbing all of the recipes that I want to try but rarely (almost never) end up making.

So, in an effort to address my cooking shortfalls (as well as justify my cookbook purchases), I’ve created a little challenge for myself.

Each month, I will choose one cookbook (ideally, it will be one that I already own but I can’t commit to not buying new ones – it’s “for the challenge” after all!) and make at least one recipe per week from that cookbook. I won’t post the recipes on my blog because they are not my recipes to share but I will share the ingredients in case it entices any of you to try them. I will also document my experience with making each recipe and what our family’s final verdict is.

Not sure how long my challenge will last but, since the goal is to learn to cook, I feel it will be a while…

Easter Traditions for Kids

Last year was the first year that Theo was old enough to understand the idea of the “Easter Bunny”, it was also the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic so we had not had a chance to fully prepare celebrating as a family of three (I was pregnant with Luca at the time) as opposed to celebrating with the 20+ relatives we usually get together with in Montreal.

So we improvised… and, along the way, started some traditions that we’re planning to continue even post-pandemic.

Growing up, Easter in my family consisted of delivering baked goods to family members, attending church and then 20+ of my family members would meet at a restaurant for lunch. During lunch, the kids would get chocolates and, as we got older, the chocolates were replaced by toys and then a card with money.

While very popular with other families, my family never had Easter Egg Hunts and, since we were usually out delivering cakes and other sweets, we also didn’t do Easter breakfast or brunch… Easter of 2020 allowed us to do both and that’s what we hope our Easters will consist of going forward (we’ll likely have to figure out a hybrid version when we’re able to visit family again).

So here is what Easter will look like for us in 2021:

Message from the Easter Bunny

In the age of emails and text messages, there is something particularly nostalgic about a handwritten note. So the first thing we do on Easter morning is read the note that the Easter Bunny left beside the baskets. It’s written on Peter Rabbit stationary (found online on the All My Pretty Books page) and tells the kids that there are treasures hidden all over the house (queue Easter Egg Hunt!).

Easter Baskets

We ordered the most beautiful Peter Rabbit personalized baskets this year from Pottery Barn Kids. These will be used every year for the kids’ gifts and then to hold their treasures during the Easter Egg Hunt.

Theo is currently really into stickers, colouring and squishy toys so we included all of those and some chocolates in his basket. Since Luka is only 5 months, this year his basket will have some stuffed animals and books.

Easter Egg Hunt

Since we usually still have snow and other winter remnants in April, I think it’s safe to say that the Easter Egg Hunt will likely always be indoors. Peter Rabbit’s note tells the kids that he hid (or dropped) his treasure on the main floor (we’ll expand to the basement as well when they’re older but, for now, I’m aiming for an injury-free Easter). To make life easier, we bought individually packaged candies, chocolates, erasers, stickers, tattoos, etc. and will hide them in obvious places for Theo (and next year Luca) to find.

Easter Breakfast/Brunch

I wish I could say that we will be having brunch on Easter Sunday but, with a 4 year old and 5 month old in the house, chances are we’ll all be awake by 7am, so Easter Breakfast it is. I bought the cutest bunny shaped waffle maker that I know Theo will adore!

House Warming Gifts to Warm the Heart

With the 2020 real estate boom in Ottawa, many of our friends sold their homes and purchased new ones. Unfortunately, with the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, I haven’t actually been able to visit them. The one silver lining, however, is that I have had a lot of time to think and prepare the perfect housewarming gift to bring with me when the time comes. Below is a list of a few of my favourites:

Christmas Ornament

Maybe it’s because it’s December and we’re nearing the end of the holiday season but the first gift that comes to mind is a Christmas Ornament that commemorates the new home. We had this one made when we moved into our second home. It is personalized with our home address and the month/year that we moved in. We’ll continue to put it up even though we don’t live there anymore because it symbolizes the growth of our family (Theo was born and Luca was conceived during the time we lived there).

Address Stamps

I have a select group of friends who still enjoy using the good ol’ snail mail (I am one of those who will always appreciate receiving letters in the mail!). So for those who like to send out birthday invites, holiday cards or any other type of letter mail, a personalized address stamp is the perfect housewarming gift! You can find some budget friendly self-inking stamps online and, if you want to take it up a notch, I am a sucker for embossers – they are classy and can be used as a decor piece in your office or on a desk.

Our address embosser sits in this pretty box, along with other stamps, when not in use.

Room Stamps

If letter mail is not your thing, I also love having (and giving, of course) custom stamps for the reader, the cook, the gardener, etc. Stamps that say “From the Library Of [insert family name]” to put on the inside of their favourite books; stamps that say “From the Kitchen Of [insert family name]” to put on recipes or cookbooks; or stamps that say “From the Garden Of [insert family name]” to put on notes when they gift fruits and vegetables from their future garden…

Party Stationary

This one I haven’t yet had a chance to gift but I will be ordering plenty for us when we move into our home and will be sure to grab a few for some select friends. Chances are if you are going to a housewarming party then the new homeowners likely enjoy hosting. Personalized party stationary such as doggy bags or paper guest towels are sure to impress and provide the special added touch.

Wine

A bottle of wine or alcohol is always a safe gift when you don’t know what to get or when you are short on time. If you want to go the extra mile, consider getting a bottle from the year the house was built.

This bottle isn’t fancy and not something I would drink but I’m holding onto it for the next friend who buys a house built in 2007!

Side Note: Depending on when your friends moved in, you may want to consider adding a bottle opener with the bottle. When we moved into our last home, we invited friends over for drinks; unfortunately, it wasn’t until they were there and the wine glasses were out that I realized our bottle opener was still in one of the many boxes that we had not yet unpacked…

Coffee Book

If your host is someone with a penchant for decor, consider gifting a coffee book from their favourite designer or travel or home decor. If you happen to have nice handwriting, consider inscribing something house related in the book. While not necessarily house-related, for our first wedding anniversary, Paolo had our wedding song inscribed in a “Humans of New York” book that I was looking to get. It was the perfect “paper gift” and is a coffee book that still conjures up conversation whenever someone opens it and sees the writing…

Magazine Subscription

This is one I hadn’t thought of until it was gifted to us but it is something I have gifted a few times during this pandemic! When we moved in to our second home, our builder (Mattamy Homes) gifted us a one year subscription to the Style At Home magazine. I loved it – mainly because I was already a long-time purchaser of the monthly magazine but also because I thought it was a perfect gift to give to someone who has purchased a home but whom you won’t actually get to visit in person. It’s a great pandemic present, or a gift to send a friend who you won’t be visiting for a while, etc.

Custom Home: Month 6 – Filling the Holes

Well… October was an eventful month on all fronts!

We started the month with a meeting with our exterior window and door supplier to make the selections for our home. With our Production Homes, we were lucky is we had a say on the color of our front door but, this time around, the decisions were endless. We were having to select window colours (exterior/interior), the sizes and layout of certain windows, which way they would open out, etc… After some careful consideration, we decided to change out our double French doors to a 12-foot sliding door in our great room because we didn’t want to give up the interior floor space required to leave room for the doors to open (we learned that, in our area anyway, you cannot have the doors open outwards which meant we would have to leave approximately 5 feet of space between the doors and our furniture in order to open them properly)…

When we were done selecting the windows and doors that would plug the (intentional) holes in our actual home, we then discovered that, due to water and organic matter on our land, we had to have a three to four foot engineered pad installed so as to prevent future water damage in our home. It didn’t sound like a big deal but it ended up coming with a big price tag! Disappointing to know that a good chunk of our upgrades budget has had to go towards compacting rocks into the ground (literally!) but the last thing any homeowner wants is water issues, so foregoing the pad was never an option. The hole in our land was filled by the end of October and is now sturdy enough for trucks to drive on!!!

Once the engineered pad was completed, our water well was dug (or drilled?). This will be our first time living on well water. We still need to do our research and do some upgrades with water softners, reverse osmosis, etc. but, from what we were told, they dug pretty deep and we should have some good water pressure!

The final missing “hole” to be filled this month??? Baby #2 of course!!! Our sweet BOY, Luca, made his appearance in a sudden (and a little traumatic) manner in mid-October. Our family of four is now complete! Theo has a new best bud, Paolo has another potential future golf buddy and I am officially likely to never have control of the television remote again!!!

Welcoming Baby #2 into a Rental

It’s so true what people say – you really do “plan” less for your second child.

I was four months pregnant with Theo when we moved into our last home. By that time, I had already mentally designed his nursery and we had a painter in the house in the first week to paint his room. A month later, we had a carpenter there to build his custom closet. By the time I was six months pregnant, the whole space was basically ready for him.

Baby #2 has been a completely different story. Of course, the circumstances are different now. We found out we were pregnant almost immediately after selling our home and purchasing the land, so we knew that this baby would likely spend his/her first year in our rental home. For me, it also meant that I wouldn’t be able to design a traditional nursery (although I am designing an entire house, so my creative juices are still flowing…).

But just because I can’t welcome Baby #2 into a meticulously laid out nursery doesn’t mean he/she won’t have a space of their own in our little rental. The baby will be in our room for the first little while, so we’ve moved Theo into his big boy bed and the crib is now by my bedside. Eventually, the guest room will double as the baby’s room so the baby could have his/her own room.

The one focus I have had in planning this space is to try, as much as possible, to buy things that have multiple uses. For example, since we are short on space, we removed the sliding closet doors from the guest room and have turned it into the baby’s make-shift closet with the Ikea Jonaxel storage systems that I plan on using in our future closets at the next house.

We learned with Theo that babies need to be changed a lot at first and we didn’t always rush to the change table in his room to change him; so, this time around, we omitted the dresser/change table (also in part because there is no room) and are setting up a couple of the Ikea Raskog utility carts instead. Later on, these can double as art and crafts carts for the kids… We’ll just change and dress the baby on the bed or couch or floor, much like we ended up doing with Theo anyway.

Ultimately, although I feel a little guilty that I am not giving Baby #2 the same house welcoming as we did for Theo, I’m choosing to see this as a positive in the long run. The reality is, by the time Theo was approaching his second birthday, I was already thinking of ways to change his room to move away from the “nursery” feel towards the “boy-room” feel. The way I see it, since we’re not finding out the gender of our current baby, not being able to design a nursery now will give me more time to design a “boy- or girl-room” for when we move into our Custom Home.

Life Lessons I Learned With My First Born

When I had Theo, I knew my life – the day-to-day aspects – would forever change. What I didn’t realize is how much I, as a person, and more specifically my outlook on life would change. Everyone always said that your priorities change when you have kids and, to me, that’s to be expected. What no one ever really talked about is how much your perception and outlook would shift, not only regarding children but in all aspects of life – marriage, friendships, work, home, future, etc.

Now that we are less than a month away from welcoming our second (and final!) baby, I can’t help but reflect and wonder what kind of “new mom” I will be to this little one.

While I’m not naive enough to think that I am some kind of expert after having had one child, I do know that there are certain lessons I learned with Theo that will shape how I interact with #2.

Don’t Stress The Insignificant

The #1 best advice I received after Theo was born came from our next door neighbour (whom we hadn’t officially met until that day). His son was only a year or two older than Theo and he said to us – from across the lawn – “Don’t worry about the things that, in the long run, won’t matter.” He explained that there is no sense in worrying about things like at what age your child first speaks, walks or is potty trained. Every kid develops at a different rate but, the reality is, we all get there in our own way.

Let’s be real, when was the last time you were asked – either in school, in a job interview, or by anyone really – how old you were when you took your first step? or at what age you were fully potty trained? Reality is, my own parents don’t remember the answer to those questions for me and they were there!

Obviously I didn’t take my neighbour’s advice on day one – I spent many days/nights worrying that Theo wasn’t developing “appropriately”, that I wasn’t giving him enough tummy time, that maybe his head was too big and that’s why he wasn’t walking early enough (that last one is a true story – I even brought him to the doctor’s to get his head size checked!). But eventually, when we got past those milestones and looked back, we realized that our trusty neighbour had it right all along. My hope with #2 is that I embrace the newfound knowledge and way of thinking so that I can enjoy the moments in the moment, without worrying if he/she is where they should be.

Insofar as this mindset has impacted my outlook, I can say one thing: it has certainly helped me in not comparing myself to others. My friend who had a baby at the same time as me but lost all the baby weight a whole year before me – good for her! I don’t need to compare to her because I ended up losing it too, it just took me longer to get there. Friends who have climbed the corporate ladder faster than I have – good for them! I’ll get there eventually too, if I want… The one good thing with not always being the first to achieve things is that you can look to those who have already “made it” and reflect whether that’s even something you want anyway…

There’s A Reason Life Moments Are Called “Stages”

The second life lesson we learned all by ourselves and I know will have a huge impact on how we embrace the newborn stage with #2.

When Theo was born, every cry, sleepless night, or cranky mood seemed to last a lifetime. There didn’t appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel, primarily because we didn’t know what was waiting for us on the other end of that tunnel – was it another sleepless night after he’d had a good nap? surely there’s nothing worse than a screaming infant who has been fed, changed and is not sleepy (yup, there is, it’s a called the temper tantrums that 3 year-olds pull in public!)?

But every time we got past a stage, we looked back and thought “well look we actually made it through that one relatively unscathed”… And that sort of became our approach with parenting – before we knew it, the newborn stage was over, then Theo was holding his head up and we didn’t have to worry about burping him, then came the end of breastfeeding and the introduction of solids, and so on… Right now, we are navigating our way through a world pandemic but, this too, shall pass.

It’s hard to keep positive when you are sleep deprived and in the thick of things but the truth is that all the stages – good and bad – will end. I know that I will be exhausted and sleep deprived with #2; it doesn’t mean that I won’t be feeling it in the moment but I take comfort in knowing that I have been through it and there’s an end in sight and, based on our experience with Theo, it really does just keep getting better!

As for how this experience has shaped a “life lesson” for me – I honestly now look at most events in my life as stages. Difficult times at work (we all have those moments where we’re just unhappy with the daily grind) have been easier to navigate when I stop and think “this too shall pass”. Falling out with friends no longer has to mean that the friendship is over, it’s just that we are going through a rough stage and we will, if it’s meant to be, rekindle that friendship in due time.

Don’t Wish Your Life Away

This last life lesson actually came from my father in the early months following Theo’s birth. Paolo was saying how he just wanted to get past this baby phase and wanted to be able to interact with Theo on a more communicative level. My dad turned to him and said “you’re wishing your life away”. Again, in the moment, that didn’t sink in but, looking back now, we understand…

Theo isn’t the only one who got older, so did we. And while it’s only been three years and we have what feels like a lifetime of growing with him ahead of us, those three years are now behind us. Three years of him developing and us growing have passed. I try to look at it from my father’s perspective and 35+ years of me developing and him growing are now past him too. It’s with the benefit of that time that he can say to us “don’t wish your life away”. Because while my second life lesson above deals with taking solace in the fact that the hard times are just stages that will pass, this final life lesson has taught me that those “stages” are what life is made up of and if you spend your time hoping for them to end, you lose sight of the moments that will inevitably become the memories.

This last life lesson is the one I will be taking most to heart, especially when we are in the “young kids” stage of life. For every temper tantrum, sleepless night or difficult experience, I’m going to try to live in THAT moment – not because I think I will look back and realize it was wonderful (let’s be real, it probably won’t be wonderful) but because each of those moments, along with the regular day-to-day and the fun times are what a life is made up of. I never would have appreciated the value of a good night’s rest if I hadn’t gone through so many sleepless nights – the hard times are just life’s way of making you realize and fully appreciate the good times.