After a whirlwind of family vacationing that stretched from rainy Maine to the sunny surf of North Carolina, we're back for good. Leo returns home unrecognizably lanky and clever, with a bunch of new talents up his sleeve including sucking his hand, rolling most of the way over, chortling, squealing, and grabbing toys.
Whether or not home recognizes Leo, he sure recognizes home—he started smiling peacefully as soon as we stepped in the door. The whole family is very happy to relax back into our everyday ways. We've got a baby gym to wriggle around under, we've got plants to water, a park to stroll in, a mom's group to attend on Wednesdays, a comfy bed and crib, and all the sounds and smells that, despite being rather annoying in their own right, make up the background for comfort.
And I've got my kitchen, a room that must miss me terribly. The fact is, it's been a while. Though I tried to pretend it wasn't happening, my cooking slacked off during the pregnancy, then hit rock bottom when Leo was born. I would head into the kitchen every now and again—after all, I'm a food writer!—but to be honest, the spark has been missing from my relationship with this central room in our home for some time. Until now.
Got Soy Milk?
So what's changed my relationship with cooking? Well, for one thing, I'm avoiding dairy after repeated pediatric consultations about the fact that Leo frequently cries 5 minutes after he starts eating. It doesn't seem terribly likely that it's a dairy allergy, or reflux, but the pediatrician figures it can't hurt to cut out dairy. Can't hurt her, that is.
Me, I will do anything for my son. But I did call back to try bargaining with the receptionist. "What about butter?" I asked. "You mean, not even a little parmesan on my pasta?" I said, just to confirm. "THE DR. SAYS TO AVOID ALL DAIRY" was the reply. Okay, fine. I won't put milk in my tea or on my cereal, nor in my pancakes and smoothies, nor will I relish my most beloved snacks and treats: yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and most of all that tiny, negligible, yet all-important bit of BUTTER on my bread. Nope, I'll switch to legume, grain and nut milks, and I suppose I'll try to enjoy margarine and non-dairy frozen "desserts".
I'm still waiting to see whether Leo's crying has become any less frequent. So far, it seems like the difference is slight. But there has been an unexpected benefit to my dairy deprivation: a renewed interest in cooking. Now that I have to think about every darn morsel I put in my mouth (and thinking about these things makes me crave all manner of deliciousness—especially baked goods!), I find myself more inclined to cook. I'm in the kitchen baking up a storm just to prove it can be done. And I have to admit that it feels pretty good going dairy-free for my little son, now that I'm taking the bull by the horns (er, grabbing the soy cow by the udders?).