Life’s Changes

letters to Sproggy

I’ve had a post, or several, swirling around in my head for weeks now, but finding the space and time and heart to write here has been a challenge.

Recent world events have left me shaken and deeply sad. The enormity of the devastation and suffering that is happening abroad is overwhelming.

Closer to home, too, there is suffering, news of losses and personal tragedies spreading via Twitter and elsewhere, friends of friends in pain, dealing with grief, yet clinging to hope.

signs of spring

My words feel very small, compared to all that.

And yet, life moves forward. Our life looks much the same on the surface, but we’re moving steadily toward the biggest change we’ve ever known.

rattle and yum

I have so much to say, but I find myself struggling with how to write it all down.

Last Night’s Dinner has grown into more than just a food blog to me. It’s really about our lives, less about recipes than it is our history, framed by the meals we share. And for the last four years, it has been fairly easy to talk about food, about myself and Mike and the cats, about people and places, about life and its changes and our place in it all, chronic over-sharer that I am. But now there’s this new little person coming into the mix, and I find myself really struggling with just how much I want to put out there, how much I should put out there.

speckled reflection

I’ll admit that for weeks on end I thought about just letting the site fade away, about changing my Twitter bio from “I don’t bake” (which is not entirely accurate anymore) to “Retired Food Blogger.”

I have been more exhausted than I ever imagined possible, barely able to eat dinner some nights, let alone cook, after coming home from a long day of work and commuting – and just forget about taking photos or writing blog posts.

Mike did a fabulous job of making sure we were well fed for most of January and February when I was really down for the count, and he has continued to do much of the heavy lifting well into March while I have tried to rest as much as possible and focus on the important work of building our baby. And even though I have returned to the kitchen, I’ve felt flat and out of sync, not quite sure how to get my groove back.

I can count on one hand the times I’ve made it to the farmers’ market this year. I’ve all but lost count of how many times I’ve started the week with a list and a meal plan, only to be derailed by a craving, a long workday, or just being too darned tired to follow through. And I’ll be perfectly honest, there’s very little in the way of seasonal, locally-grown produce in my kitchen right now. This kid is demanding berries and avocados, slabs of hydroponic tomato from Maine with lots of pepper and coarse grey salt, just-ripe bananas and wheels of mouth-puckering pineapple. Not very locavore of me, but I’m indulging, no apologies.

To be honest, though, I feel like I should apologize, or justify, or explain what I’m eating and why, and that has been a big part of what has kept me from writing here. If there’s one thing I’ve really noticed of late, it’s that people love to give advice to a pregnant woman. Everybody’s got a story, a suggestion, an opinion on what and how much you should or shouldn’t eat, and people will criticize in a heartbeat, especially people who are protected by the cloak of anonymity the internet provides.

Do I really want to put my choices out there for all to pass judgment on? Aren’t these choices really between me and my health care providers? It’s pretty hard to write a food blog and not talk about food. Should I even bother trying to go on here as before, when everything is so different now?

skillet pie

Right now, I don’t have an answer.

My heart swells when I think about the friends Mike and I have made, the opportunities that have come our way, the community of kindred spirits we’ve been welcomed into because of this blog. Our lives are richer for it. I’m very hesitant to give it up. But I’m not quite sure how to get started again.

37 thoughts on “Life’s Changes

  1. Ay, Jen – good to see you here again. So don’t write about you. Write about what you’re eating. When you can. I ate a hydroponic tomato from Canada three days ago and I LIKED it. F&ck it. I’m not even pregnant. Don’t let’s become all fundamentalist about local, anyway.

    I missed your posts.

  2. christy says:

    I have never written a response to any of your posts (although I have enjoyed all that I have read thoroughly). March to your own drummer, sweetie. This is a lesson I learned MUCH TOO LATE in life. Sometimes it will be hard. Who cares?! Nothing is more important than taking care of yourself and your family.

    My son will be 21 this year. I had him quite young in life and we grew up together as best friends. It was a terrific adventure (although we were quite poor in the beginning); I wish you the same (without the financial struggles).

    All my best,
    C.

  3. laura says:

    I’ve missed you, too. And I have no advice except go with your instinct and the advice of the people you trust. Everybody’s story is the same; everybody’s story is different. I just read an article about how women demand so much more of themselves than anyone else does. If you make any lists, let them just be a daily list of your priorities that day. And work down. We understand and care more about you than about ourselves on this one. But thank you for letting us know where you are. (In Limbo, right?) Auguroni di cuore.

  4. Your body knows what it wants and needs, so continue to trust that and don’t look back. If your body wants avocados and blueberries, go for it. If you need to put your feet up for a couple of hours when you get home from work, do it. I worked for the Federal gov’t when I was pregnant, and with my second, actually got a note from my doctor prescribing that I take a nap every afternoon. I had to go down to the nurse’s office just like a little kid, and she’d set a timer for 20 minutes alongside the examining table/bed. I was sort of embarassed at first, but it made the difference. I could focus the rest of the afternoon and I could drive home with my 2 yr. old without falling asleep at the wheel. Ignore the haters. It’ll be fine whatever you decide.

  5. Sue says:

    You are missed. But we understand – and your momma bear instincts are already kicking in by protecting your little person from this crazy, judgemental world. Good for you. For someone I have never met, I feel very connected to you. I was overjoyed to read about your pregnancy. It came on the heels of a terrible personal loss – my brother died very suddenly in January and I have been reeling since. Your news was truly a bright spot in my long, sad winter. If you find the strength to share more often, I am here to read and not judge….ever. Thank you for your words.

  6. Adina says:

    It makes sense that as your lives evolve, your blog evolves as well. Share as much as you want and continue to make no apologies! You are a phenomenal blogger, cook, wife, friend, cat-mommy, and soon to be baby-mommy. I’ve missed your posts and am glad to hear from you.

  7. Wendy Reynolds says:

    Hi Jen: I’ve never commented before in response to your posts, but this one struck a chord. I totally get your dilemma. I work with (very disadvantaged) pregnant and parenting moms who are substance users … a whole different ballgame from your situation, I know. But I also know how judgemental and even cruel people can be to pregnant women if they’re perceived not to be doing things “right” even though they may be doing their best. Doesn’t matter what their social status or activity. While I fear losing your posts for a while, as I adore them, I wonder if it isn’t emotionally safer and healthier for you and your family to lie low for a bit in the blogosphere. (Or stick totally to food and pretend you’re only eating raw leafy greens while Mike is downing all the really super delicious stuff you make!) My 2 cents … Cheers!

  8. Vicki says:

    I LOVE your blog and have missed it in the last 2 months. That said, if your health, energy level and state of mind will improve by taking a blog break throughout your pregnancy (and especially when the little one comes), then take a break without guilt or regrets. Just let us know when the baby comes! Your health and happiness are the MOST important things. Be kind to your body and your psyche, relax as much as you can. You’ll be very busy soon enough!

  9. Meryl says:

    You’ve definitely been missed, I love love love your blog. I was glad to see your post and to hear that your pregnancy is going well. I can only imagine how hectic things have been for you lately…its ok to let the blog go and focus on yourself and your pregnancy :) And you are right, people love to give unsolicited advice to pregnant women…my sister is 5+ months along and she has been experiencing the same thing. But I agree with you… your doctor and you know what’s best! You’ve always impressed me with your dedication to local, organic produce, dairy and livestock…how can that possibly be bad? Best of luck, Meryl x

  10. Jen says:

    You have to do what feels right for you and your family first– no doubt about that. But know also that it is your voice and your photos– not your locavore lifestyle– that keeps me coming back! Having been pregnant this time last year myself, I completely understand the need to eat whatever you think you can get down, local/global be damned. I ate a pineapple a week, and plenty of fruit from Chile. There were even some regular trips to McDonalds when that was all that sounded good. I, for one, would love to read whatever you feel comfortable sharing, whenever you have the energy to do so!!

  11. Tina says:

    This is really my first time visiting your site and everything the ladies ahead of me have posted is dead on. Do what you have to do and you don’t have to decided to continue yet, wait until your hormones aren’t raging. And a special note to Sue #6 commenter, I am so sorry to hear about your loss I too have had my share and it isn’t an easy road. My advice is simple “Remember the laughter”.

  12. sherry k says:

    I’ve always enjoyed the way you write about your life and how it impacts your menu choices. If you develop a passion for Cap’n Crunch or caviar well, that’s your lookout. Just take pictures and tell us…please.
    You owe me nothing, but I miss you when you aren’t here.
    Good health to you and yours.
    Sherry K

  13. girl, you don’t owe us anything. the first trimester BLOWS … and to try to put on a happy face amidst all the devastation in the world (morning sickness, food aversions, and migraines aside) is almost impossible.

    i love this blog, and i can’t wait for you to be back with some regularity. but for now, i was just happy to see that you and the baby are in good health.

    best wishes !!!

  14. I’ve missed you ’round these parts! I selfishly hope you’ll be back to posting no matter the subject matter but totally get the dilemma. You do what you have to, eat what you want to, and get back to us if that’s what makes sense to you.

    Sending you lots of good wishes!

    (And holy YUM does that skillet pot pie whatsit look delicious.)

  15. Matt M. says:

    Jen,

    I’m not sure you would remember me. We were both mods on the WFE back in the day. I think at that time I was known as the “troll-killer” or something similar.

    You mentioned recent world events making you sad, and I’d like to address one of them. I actually live in Japan now. The earthquake and tsunami, of course, were a terrible tragedy. But the Japanese people are unbelievably strong and while they are grieving and burying the dead, they are also already planning how to rebuild. It’s been devastating but the hope I’ve seen here is really something to behold.

    Whether you continue to blog or not is your choice, and you need to do whatever is best for you. Take care of yourself.

    Oh, and I never said it in the previous thread, but congratulations.

    Best,

    – Matt

  16. Missy says:

    So happy to see you back!! I look forward to reading your blog so much and am so excited for you and your husband on the baby. I had my daughter (now 21) when I was 37 and married for 17 years. Never did we imagine after that long would we be blessed with the most wonderful child ever born. So I agree with the others. You take care of you and that precious baby and of course your husband too. Just be sure to let us know when she or he comes because I know everyone will want to know!!!!

  17. Cindy says:

    I have read your blog for a long time and I’m not sure I have ever posted. This seems like a good time…

    First, congratulation on Sprog! I hope that he/she will be a healthy baby and that your pregnancy gets easier.

    Second, turn off the comments on posts where you don’t want people to comment. I do hope you will keep blogging because your cooking is creative. It challenges me to try to new and different things (even if I can’t get them where I live, I try). But I get that people are jerks and why you may not want to here everyone’s opinions on personal matters.

    Ultimately, you have to do what feels right to you. But I do hope you can figure out how to keep the blog going. I sure will miss it if it isn’t here but would understand completely.

  18. Emilie says:

    People love pregnant ladies, and they love giving pregnant ladies advice. The only people they love giving advice even more than pregnant ladies are new moms. :-) (So you may want to gear up for that…) I find a smile and “hmm, mmh” works just fine, along with remembering that most people, really truly, think they’re being helpful (and occasionally there is a nugget of wisdom thrown out there). I’m sure I’m guilty of it too – it took me so long to figure some things out that I feel the need to share! I also find that sometimes people say things just because they don’t know what else to say, and pregnancy (especially once you’re out to *there*) is an obvious topic.

    I’m not as committed to local eating as you are (produce-wise, anyway), though I do try at least June-Oct/Nov, but I will say that when I was pregnant with Ian I ate blueberries EVERY SINGLE DAY from month 3 to the day he was born. They were usually from Costco in the giant 2 lb clamshell or else I would have gone broke. Gotta do what you gotta do. Weird thing is, my MIL had major blueberry cravings the whole time she was pregnant with my husband. There’s something biological about the whole thing.

    It would be sad if you stopped blogging – I find your pictures of food very inspirational. (and I wouldn’t mind seeing a pineapple in there every once in a while) :-) Maybe if you’re not up for writing posts you could just post pictures (like the weekend posts)?

  19. Billie says:

    Some times the changes in our lives become hard to handle, or should I just say very different and then we struggle thru them the best we can. This change for you will be somewhat difficult, most definately a challange, but it is part of your journey. I have been blessed to watch your’s and Mikes journey for a good while now, and to follow it thru this wonderful blessed event is something I look forward to. Never to judge or suggest your way, but to be inspired by your strength and your desire for a good life. Keep your chin high and keep sharing if you see fit to do so.

  20. lisa says:

    I will chime in here, as a former career mmom who did too many things to do them all well, and wishes often for a “do-over”. My successful kids (praise God) are 30 and 27 now; and on their own and I count them as friends. But running a business was my priority when they were young, and certain little tugs of regret back then have become unhealed now in light of how fast all of that went. That said, you have a wonderful skill with words; the pictures painted in between your food appreciation and the life you beautifully write about is wholesome and healing for others; and I always found that journalling was theraputic when life was so dizzy. No one expects a blog to be a weekly update; we all have busy lives and other sources; ever-expanding. So keep the blog; write when you can, post what you feel safe sharing and relegate the other stuff to a private journal. You will notice the priority; and God gives an even stronger instinct to nurture and protect when He helps you usher that little one into the world. Eat what you crave, enjoy the season of expecting and the softness that it brings out in strangers and friends, and know that your readers will welcome anything, anytime.

  21. Alice says:

    Jen-I adore you & your blog, but…life sometimes beckons. Ya know we’ll still be here-it’s ok to go away for awhile or a long while-you can always choose to surprise us! You are loved!

  22. Kelly Wallace says:

    I’ve missed you. I don’t care (and it’s no one’s business) what you eat, I just hope you continue to write about it. And maybe your blog will morph into a “food and other things” blog. You’re a writer Jen, maybe even before you’re a really fabulous cook and I for one love to read what you write. And as a woman who will probably never have a child of my own, I would love to read about this new journey that you and Mike are taking, only as much as you are willing to share and if that’s none at all, then those of us who have followed your blog for years will completely understand. No guilt Jen, not about a blog.

  23. Samantha from Maine says:

    All the best to you and yours no matter what you decide to do…Big hugs and kisses to your little family. MUAH!

  24. So glad for your post. You say so well many of the issues I think about–food blogging vs. life blogging, sharing, and kids. We’ve got a second baby due in July and I so understand where you’re coming from. People do feel so entitled to tell us preggos what to do, when really, we each need to find our own “right.” Looking forward to hearing more, and hoping you’ll share (some) of your journey. And please, pass the avocados and berries!

  25. Tanya says:

    Dear Jen,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and have always meant to post a comment but never have (why is that?!!) But after your last blog I feel the need to write something, before the little changes ahead (did I say little?!). I’ve loved lastnightsdinner ever since stumbling across it a number of years ago. Your writing and food have brought me so much inspiration and provided me with a wonderful way to escape on a rainy evening in the UK. I love your gorgeous photos and have loved watching your progress and all the success your cooking has given you. I was so pleased to hear of your news and I wish you lots of luck for your pregnancy, the birth, the baby and beyond.
    My little girl is 13 months now and the advice is on going and can drive you crazy but as another post has said, just smile and nod and file the info as you see fit! Having my daughter has been and continues to be the most amazing, beautiful, exhausting and joyous thing ever. Everyone’s experience is different and you and Mike will work out what is best for you. The last thing you need in your pregnancy and indeed when you’re a mum is to feel you are being judged or measure yourself against some unobtainable ideal. But I’m giving you advice surely!! Almost a lecture!
    I will stop wittering on now. Seriously, I wish you all the best for the future and what ever you decide to do with your website. I hope that you do continue it in some form or another, but of course, you do what is best for you and your family.
    Kind regards and big congratulations
    Tanya x

  26. You’ll get more advice than you know what to do with, but I have to add one little thing…don’t make any rash decisions for the next year. The pregnancy brain…and then the new mommy brain…will take enough getting used to. Take all the time you need with this blog. We’ll all be here when you get back. And, if you never do, that’s okay, too. We’ll still be here for you. I know I sure will. I’m so glad to have met you in person recently, and I hope that’s just the first of many real-life get-togethers. Hugs to you, Jen (and Mike!).

  27. TK says:

    Jen – I have a very strong recollection how in both my pregnancies people of all ages and all genders kept touching my belly. They would come over, rub it, and ask me how things are going. At some point I took a friend’s advice, and started rubbing THEIR bellies back, saying ‘great, and how are you feeling?’. You have to justify your choices to one person: yourself. Screw everyone else. You are lucky to have such a wonderful and supporting husband (so do I). I wish you both all the best. Lots of love all the way from Israel!

  28. I’m so glad to hear that #1, Sprog is asking for delicious, healthy things and #2, you’re answering YES to them.
    Also, I’ll say this one thing, site-wise – take your time. If this site brings you pressure, instead of joy, don’t write. If one day something you cook brings you joy and you want to write about it, do. We’ll be here either way. And I mean, there’s always Twitter, and even *gasp* talking to people in person.
    Be well. All of you. (Including Kirby and his fluffy tail) :)

  29. Lesli says:

    Your body tells you what it needs, and you’re answering…good for you! Really, really good for you nutrition-wise too, it sounds. My body informed me it wanted some pretty odd things sometimes when I was pregnant with my three (now 11, 9, and 5), and whether it was an entire can of (non-organic, nor local) olives or a pint of ice cream (also “not” either), I delivered. (And they all turned out great. ;)) I’d love if you kept blogging about food; I (and many others) love reading here, and seeing how things evolve will be interesting, especially someday including eats for your little one I hope. I second the person who suggested turning off the comments; perhaps not having the worry about that would make this fun for you again? Though I also agree with the other who pointed out that you’ll be getting even more advice as a new mom, so maybe this would be good practice on how to tune out the unsavory characters. In any case, best wishes, and I hope to see more from you soon.

  30. Roberta says:

    Take it easy. You have a rich trove of photos and food ideas here in your archives for readers to enjoy, not to mention your recipes on food52. Until I make each and every one of these, I’ve got plenty of lastnightsdinner to keep me going.

    Thanks for all you’ve done, and best wishes always.

  31. I just read this post. I will say that the journey you are on is one that is so incredible, your heart will grow in ways you never knew were possible. Especially yours. We live in a world different than the one we grew up in, and we don’t have the experiences of our ancestors or parents to guide us here. I used to have a public blog that had pictures of my child when she was first born, and then I took them all down. My daughter is extraordinary – the true love of my life – she is my heart – she makes me sing…and I just think that not everyone should be able to see her….or….I don’t know how to explain it. You only have one shot with each child – shouldn’t it be special? Your own? Private? Maybe this is too much, but all I can say, is err on the side of caution. Love yourselves and your child, and worry less about anyone else…good luck

  32. Hey Jen! I’m a bit behind on my blog reading, so I only just spotted this post. I just wanted to echo the chorus of voices and say amen to doing what you need to do. Know that we’re all out here sending you love and support as you go through this life changer. I’d be sad if you hung up the blog, but I’d understand too.

  33. Michelle says:

    It feels a little strange to write to someone I’ve never met, and to have been following your very personal blog, but it would be such a loss to those of us who love to follow you if you ended your blog. I say just write whatever you feel like, post whatever you are comfortable with, food related or not. It is your writing from the heart that I think readers connect with – wether it is about food or life. I hope you will continue with it, I know I would love to hear about this next leg of your journey. By the way, your photos are always breathtaking.

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