Friday, January 25, 2013


I bet you'd never know it, but I used to be a dancer. I was the kind of child who had more interests than my parents had time or money for and eventually I had to choose, and I chose ballet. I dabbled in other types of dance but ballet stuck with me for a decade, from childhood through my early teens.  When you're a little ballerina, it's all about the tutus and pink tights. I was the kind of kid who had an athletic talent for dancing (and in general) but lacked the discipline and grace that makes great dancers. I could do the steps, but often drifted off in rehearsal and looked around me during recitals to help remember the sequence I'd forgotten. Dancing brought me great joy because it, along with sports, taught me how to be present in my body in the moment. It helped me see how practice can produce real change, change you wouldn't anticipate at the start of the process. It helped teach me how to be a part of a group that was greater than the sum of its parts, and that beauty and art are worthy pursuits, regardless of any tangible outcome.  It let me express myself in a completely unique medium.  I will always be thankful for my time as a dancer and I wouldn't change my decision, though do often look back and wonder what would have happened if I'd continued with music more seriously.
But at some point in those 10 years, I realized that dance wasn't for me. I had to grow up a little and see the writing on the wall that I just wasn't that great at it.  It wasn't for lack of trying; it was just who I am.  I've written here that I appreciate my body now more than I ever did. Growing up, I found it difficult to love my body. I developed earlier than some of my peers and this new woman's body made many of my favorite activities much less enjoyable. I didn't want to be a woman when I was in middle school. I wanted to be fast, light, small. I wanted to run and move and not think about my body.
A certain innocence is lost when children begin to reflect on their bodies at times when they once took them for granted.
At some point in my ballet career it became time to transition to pointe shoes.  Every little ballerina dreams of wearing those shoes, tying the ribbons up her legs and floating across the stage. It turns out that they're quite difficult to get up in, not because of the pain but because they require a very pronounced arch of the foot for the toe tip to press flat against the floor.  I had spent years developing a strong turnout, something that can be learned, but I simply didn't have the arches for pointe shoes. I tried. I did my best and I had fun, but it was very difficult for me to get on the tips of those shoes.  One day after bending the soles over and over in a futile effort to bend them to my weak, too-flat feet, my older sister slipped them on and her unusually high arches bent them directly to the floor.  I might have thrown something at her.  (She and I are four years apart and have always been very close. I feel so lucky to have her as my big sister.)
Among other things, ballet taught me that some people are just built for certain things. I am not built for dance. My feet were not built for those shoes and I learned a lot by trying to fit into them.  In the spirit of reflection, I'm making an effort to accept my limitations. I'm trying to step back and see what I've managed to force myself into, what stories I have been telling myself.  I am trying to put my ego aside and be honest about what still has a place in my life. Everything is on the table; my business, this blog, everything. I have do things on my terms, and that means this space might languish sometimes. Please know that it's not because I haven't been thinking of you or don't have things to share here. It's because I have a little head of hair to smell, tiny clothes to fold, and I just won't miss a moment of it to be here.  It's also important to me that when I do post, it's because I have something honest to tell you about. Because I do think I'm built to have write here. I think it works for me. It's an important part of my life but I have to make it fit.
I want to tell you about the things we've been eating and doing around the house recently. Meal planning, and discipline in general, is hard for me but I'm getting better. I thought I'd share a few of the meals we've been eating and then show you a few activities Ellie has been doing.
I made a little calendar with meals and tasks for January and put it up on the fridge. It keeps me on track to see everything in one place. Some days are more exciting, others we have eggs and salad.
I have a drawer where I shove all the recipes I pull from magazines. I use them when I need inspiration. I put the recipes I'll use on the side of the fridge so they're easy to grab.  I'm always looking for cheap healthy meals to throw together on weeknights.
 A few things we've eaten:

Roasting a chicken is a great way to get many meals out of one day of work. I did a chicken in the crockpot, which was no work and came out very well, and it turned into a few meals including chicken pot pie, chicken and dumpling soup, and salad with chicken and poached eggs (mother and child reunion?)
I have never poached eggs much but now I can't get enough of them over greens. Tony's is the best on eggs.
I made baked fish sticks with tilapia and homemade wheat breadcrumbs. They're actually more like cubes than sticks, and yes I drank a PBR. I live in Iowa City, ok?
Baked on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. (The white pieces are leftover bits of panko that I threw in with the breadcrumbs.)
Served with sweet potato fries and aioli.
I made a really simple red curry soup with shrimp, green beans, cilantro and lime. I also made spring rolls with more shrimp, "spiralized" veggies (how I do it without a spiralizer), and a soy garlic dipping sauce. This meal came together quickly and was really good.
I took some of that chicken and made a really simple gravy just by frying onions in butter, making a roux, adding a little milk and stock. I added shredded chicken and lots of black pepper and served it over biscuits with fried eggs and bacon. Breakfast for dinner is so easy and satisfying. We do it once a week.
In that photo you can see the green coffee beans a friend gave us. We've started roasting our own coffee! It's quite fun but not without its snags. We are using two air popcorn poppers and every batch is an experiment. The good news is unroasted beans are very cheap and store well.  These are from Sweet Maria's. 
We've been doing some activities with Ellie to help improve her fine motor skills and get her involved in the kitchen. First I've been letting her use a vegetable cutter (similar) which is very dull but easy for her to hold.  I plan to have Eleanor in the kitchen from a very early age using real tools. She mostly uses real glasses and plates. Soon I will put her plates and glasses down at her level and have a water station accessible to her, but she's not quite ready yet.
I gave her a banana and let her slice away.
Victory! Sorry it's blurry but I had to include it. This is the hallmark of an engaged child. She had to work hard to hold the cutter and push down steadily.  After she cut it we moved the pieces of banana into a bowl and she ate some.  
I've been working with Ellie at matching lids to different kinds of boxes. I organized a bin filled with a few different kinds of containers with lids and let her explore.
Honestly it didn't keep her busy for very long, maybe 5 minutes, and some of them were too hard for her.  She has this on a shelf in the living room and will often pick up a box or two individually but doesn't seem to love the activity.  I think I'll remove it and try again in a few weeks.
Lastly, we have been working on transferring and scooping.  Ellie moves whole nutmeg between these two metal bowls, sometimes with her hands and sometimes with the scoop. They make a very satisfying sound dropping into the bowls and are easy to handle.
Her latest obsession is the moon. Every night she asks us many times to take her outside so she can look at it. This will be a lot more fun in the summer!
Thank you again for sticking with me and coming back here to check in. I hope you are doing well, and I would love to hear about anything you worked hard at and succeeded or failed, and what it taught you.
You can always keep up with me on Facebook or Twitter, too.


Stacy Duffy said...

I love the activities you have been doing with E! We will need to try the transferring activities. Can you send me your sweet potato fries recipes? It looks like you've been making some great food!

Linda said...

Hi Alicia,
Is Eleanor in her new high chair from Xmas? I noticed that she has quite a few different high chairs from looking at past photos. Benji is now 5 months old and it's time for us to get him a high chair. Would love to see a post about the various high chairs you have used. Is there one chair that you would recommend for a baby starting out to sit? TIA!

Susi Korinek said...

I love your story about dance and the photo with your sister. You were just as beautiful then!
I have such a profound respect for professional dancers, especially ballet. I was watching a TV special not too long ago that said that ballet dancers training is the most rigorous of ANY athletic activity and the most stressful on the body.
As you know, Maggie started ballet when she was only 2 and even though she is almost 5 now, I'm not certain how long she will want to continue. As you stated, some of the steps and positions can be learned but others have to come naturally.
You are so wise, Alicia.
And I laughed out loud at your PBR comment!
Love you friend!
Susi said...

Hi Alicia,

Healthline is interested in contributing a guest post to We would be open to contributing any blog that would be of interest to your readers. Healthline bloggers have been featured on a variety of sites including:

Washington Times:
Natural News:

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Warm Regards,

LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs