11.02.2011

as it should be


You know how sometimes you'll stop by a favorite blog and find a post that starts out, "I've been trying to write this post for a while now...?" And then the author talks a bit about the writer's block s/he's been suffering, or the conflicting feelings s/he's been wrestling with about broaching a particularly touchy subject, or even all the extraordinary busyness of ordinary life that has conspired to keep him/her away from the computer.

This is that post.

Except that this is very much not that post.

My excuse for not having written this sooner is not one that I ever see brought up in other blogs. At least, not the blogs I read.

I have been having trouble getting this post to you because I keep falling asleep.

No, I do not have narcolepsy, or mono, or even an inordinately exhausting life.

I simply have a child with a bedtime routine that routinely puts me to sleep, as well.

Every night, I lay down with Wylie until he falls asleep. And snuggling with my little boy at the end of the day, in a cozy bed in a dark room, is apparently exactly what my body needs to trigger my own sleep mechanisms, despite my best efforts to stay awake. If I wake up at all, it is often not until 10:30 or 11pm; too late to begin writing for a mama who needs to be up at 6:45 the next morning. Sometimes I wake with a start when I hear the front door shut and the dog start doing her excited, tail-wagging wiggle dance; Josh has arrived home, so it must be closing in on midnight. Definitely too late to write.

To compound the problem, evenings are the only time I get anything that resembles a block of kid-free, uninterrupted time to write. Preschool ended up not being a good fit for Wylie right now, so he's back at home every day, and my promising pastry assistant is no longer working at the restaurant, so the little bit of daytime freedom that was opening up for me has abruptly disappeared.

I'm actually okay with this, usually. Decisions were made that were in the best interests of all involved, and I'm enjoying having, for the first time in both of our lives, regular periods of one-on-one time with Wylie.

But at 11 o'clock at night, groggy and grumpy that I have missed yet another night of "me" time? That's when I realize that part of this system is broken.

Wylie and I need to find another way to get him to sleep. One that is nurturing, efficient and unobtrusive to Kalen (they share a room), but that allows me to stay alert and awake and productive past the kiddo bedtime hour.

I'd like to propose a trade. Not with Wylie, necessarily, although wouldn't it be wonderful if he was rational and mature enough to barter his way to a mutually agreeable bedtime routine? No, I'd like to trade with all of you. Josh and I have talked about some strategies that we think might work, but really, we're just stabbing at the dark here; Kalen's transition was under very different circumstances. I'd love to know how other families have transitioned their little ones to independent sleepers, especially when said little ones are really not so little at all anymore, and are in fact around the ripe old age of three.

So, you tell me all your secrets and tricks, and in exchange I'll give you the recipe for perfect cinnamon cream cheese ice cream. Perfect because it's quick and easy, and stays smooth and creamy in the freezer for weeks, but also because it tastes perfect. The cinnamon is warm and cozy — as it should be — not high-pitched and biting like a Red Hot®, the way some cinnamon ice creams I've had are. And the tang of the cream cheese makes you realize that this is a real, sophisticated Flavor, not merely some cinnamon garnishing vanilla ice cream.


In fact, this ice cream may be the only one you need as we approach the holiday season, with so many pies in our future waiting to be à-la-moded, and baked apples and cranberry-pear crisps wanting to get in on the action too. Just another nod to its perfectness.

At the end of the week, Josh and I are heading off on whirlwind four days of eating our way through lower Manhattan. Yes, that's right, folks: a kid-free vacation. One that involves air travel and reservations at fancy restaurants and late-night drinks. It's a bit mind-boggling to imagine myself doing such adult things, for days in a row, after so many years of being a constant parent. Mind-boggling and exhilarating, for sure. And when we get back, after the pain of missing my children has worn off, the Wylie-Tara Sleep Project will commence. For now, simply making the commitment to change what has become a well-worn (and worn out!) habit is enough for me. But very soon, I'll need some concrete plans.

Here I am, ready and waiting for your suggestions, friends. And, to prove to you how serious I am, I'll go ahead and keep up my end of the bargain: The Recipe.


Cinnamon Cream Cheese Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart

This recipe is really just a variation of my Vanilla-Brown Sugar Ice Cream recipe, with a few tweaks here and there. And while the tweaks may seem minor, the end result is a different product altogether. Where the original ice cream tastes of the simplicity of my childhood summers, this version is all grown-up, with extra tang from more cream cheese and the richness and heat of quality cinnamon. For me, if I'm going to be eating ice cream in the colder months, atop my slice of apple pie or alongside a fudgy brownie, this is the one I want.

360 gr/12 fluid oz whole milk
360 gr/12 fluid oz heavy cream
120 gr light brown sugar
8 gr light corn syrup
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp best-quality ground cinnamon
large pinch kosher salt
55 gr cream cheese, room temperature, in a small bowl

Have ready a metal bowl set over an ice bath.

Combine everything but the cream cheese in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a fast simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to the metal bowl in the ice bath. Whisk a small amount of the mixture into the cream cheese until the cream cheese has dissolved, then whisk the cream cheese mixture into the ice cream base. (I find an immersion blender works especially well for fully incorporating the cream cheese.) Once the ice cream base has cooled, transfer it to the refrigerator and chill until very cold, up to overnight.

Strain the ice cream base into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack the churned ice cream into glass storage containers (or use a metal loaf pan), press plastic wrap or parchment directly onto the surface, cover tightly, and freeze. Ice cream keeps for up to 3 months.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing, Tara. I know the push-and-pull of trying to make everything work and get everything done all too well. While I started off resenting the situation, I've since learned to look at it from a place of self-compassion and patience. I'm doing my best, and that's what really matters at the end of the day.

    Hope you receive a lot of helpful advice. This recipe definitely deserves it. :)

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  2. i'm hoping you get lots of great suggestions bc i need them too. my 2.5 y/o's bedtime routine needs a change-up, and i'm eager for any insights on how to ease (or even introduce) a transition.

    until then, i'll be eating this ice cream! sounds terrific.

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  3. Oh once again, I hear ya on every account. My best advice would be to slowly move yourself out of his bed, day-by-day until you no longer need to be there with him. Start by sitting on the end of his bed for a few days, move to a few feet away, sitting by the door, sitting outside the door..... this way builds his confidence in knowing that you are still there if he needs you without him actually needing you right there.
    Hope you find something that works.
    P.S Love your photos, that top one is stunning! Enjoy your few days aways xx

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  4. I have two sick little ones in my room tonight. I wish I could help you, but I'm not doing any better. They are only little for such a short time. I'm still hoping to make your noodles, but ice cream sounds even better. Good luck with bedtime!

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  5. I've been there with the same sleep situation. All I can say is that it eventually worked itself out, with time. Big breath, patience. And thank you for the wonderful ice cream recipe. My now-adult daughter and I were discussing holiday food plans and decided we'd look for a cinnamon ice cream recipe. End of quest!

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  6. It sounds like the perfect trade to me! My children didn't share a room so I know that adds a little twist to your situation but I hope my advice helps. First I think it's the perfect time to start a new routine when you've been gone. Our routine was/is we read to both the kids at the same time in our bed then tuck them in and they listen to music or now an audio book in their beds. Our kids are 7 and 11 now and they also read on there own after they are tucked in. This works really well but there were times when the youngest didn't want to go to sleep. Sometimes we let her look at books in bed depending on how tired we felt she really was. The main thing we did with the transition time was stick to the plan! Whatever you decide to do don't backtrack when they know this is the new routine and it's not changing they will calm down and go with it. It might take a few nights (or longer) depending on your son but I do believe consistency is the key. I could go on but this is getting a little long I hope it helps!

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  7. Jonathan - I love your message of self-compassion and patience over resentment. Thank you.

    Erika - I hope you find some good inspiration in these comments! And enjoy the ice cream!

    Emma G. - Thank you. It's so nice to know other mamas can identify with these very-normal parenting issues. And thanks for your advice - I like the idea of literally slowly transitioning out of the room, inch by inch. :)

    nicki - You're right, they are only little for a short time. I try to remind myself of this, knowing that in 10 years I'll wish they still wanted me snuggled up to them in bed.

    Emma - Breathing and patience. Best advice ever. Glad I could provide something you were looking for, as well! :)

    Pétra - Oh, I think some soft, lulling bedtime music would be a wonderful thing to incorporate into our bedtime routine! Thank you! And yes, as I've learned in so many other instances, consistency is key.

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  8. This ice cream sounds delish... mentally I have to convert the measurements (not so easy for me), but perhaps I'll give it a try!
    About the bedtime routine.... what worked for me was having a conversation before bedtime with Evan about how our routine would work for both of us. I also compromise by laying down, reading books, and then when the light goes out we lay in bed chatting about whatever comes up for about 5 min until I kiss him goodnight and leave the room. He has a CD that we play, and a night light on... all part of his choices. At first I would have to go back in a few times to make him feel comfortable, and now he usually is asleep 5 min after I am out the door. Works great for me.... but now he prefers Papa to put him to sleep becasue he figured out his dad will fall fast asleep in 30 seconds, and he has a snuggle mate for the night..... that also usually works for me minus the evening time w/ my husband.

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  9. Courtney - Sounds like you've got a great routine. ;) You should treasure these last few weeks of easy bedtime habits - as you know, infants hardly ever stick to the schedules we lay out for them. :)

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  10. Oh my....have I been through this! :-) It's such a hard balance and with all three of our boys I've struggled with wanting a bit of my life back and just throwing in the towel and enjoying that snuggle time...

    But anyway, here's what helped me:
    1. I made myself stay awake, (hard as it was) and switched into sitting up next to them rather than lying down. Then I got myself an ipod and loaded it up with Podcasts to keep me up if it was taking awhile for them to fall asleep.
    2. I slowly started sneaking out..."Mama just has to run to the potty, can you just wait? I'll be right back." Doing this every few nights, every other night, coming back in one minute, two, five...Takes a good month but before you know it you're home free.

    Good luck! It's a tough phase...

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