Settling in and thinking about 2024

We’ve been back for about a week from our four-plus weeks of travel. As always, it’s a bit of a whirlwind from the beginning to the end. The end is always sad, not just because our travels are over, but also because we are returning to a Northern Hemisphere winter. And while that winter may have been relatively mild over the last few years, it’s still what it is, which is… WINTER. That means it’s cold, the heater will need to be on, the apartment will be dry, and we will have seasonal sadness at the short days, long nights, and cold temperatures. The reality is that January in the Northern Hemisphere is always bleak. The festivities and excitement around Christmas and New Year’s have ended. And everyone is getting back into their usual routine for the new year.

I hate to be trite about it, but one goal that has been a goal since September is trying to lose the excess weight I gained as a result of weaning off breastfeeding/pumping. I’m about five pounds off of where I want to be to get back to pre-pregnancy weight. So while I’ve never had a new year’s goal to lose weight, this time around, I actually do… it’s just that it happens to coincide with a new year.

I’m also trying to stop grinding my teeth at night… which is a hard goal, but one I’m attempting with “natural” methods. I’d been wearing a mouth guard for years, but I recently realized that it was digging in my gums and possibly making defects in my gums and teeth. I had a new mouth guard made and am having it adjusted so that it’s comfortable. But a mouth guard doesn’t prevent you from grinding; it simply protects against tooth damage from grinding. And the grinding has been having negative effects on me this last year: I have extreme cold sensitivity in three of my top teeth to the point where I can barely talk outside in this cold weather and not have my teeth hurt. The dentists are planning to apply a desensitizing treatment to those teeth tomorrow.

A tip that my childhood dentist gave me years ago to prevent the problem of grinding was to put a wine cork in between my front teeth and hold it there for 10-20 minutes before bedtime. I’d follow it with a jaw joint massage for a minute or so. This would supposedly relieve any jaw tension (we all have jaw tension) and prevent my jaws from wanting to clamp down while I’m sleeping and thus subconscious. I’ve been trying that since we came back from our trip, and I do notice that my jaw seems less tense when I wake up.

Other little goals I have this year: I want to make more soup, which also means making a lot of the traditional soups I grew up with, that I took for granted, that my grandma used to make. I’m sourcing places to find pork and beef bones to help out with this goal. Soup is nourishing for the soul, and especially during a cold winter, but I also want Kaia to be able to appreciate traditional Chinese and Vietnamese flavors in the form of this nourishing liquid. I also want to explore more Taiwanese cooking, regional Chinese cooking, and Vietnamese cooking. I’d like to start cooking for friends more the way I used to before the pandemic and before Pookster was born. We’ll likely just need to shift to lunch time parties rather than dinner parties given Pookster’s sleeping schedule, but we shall see how it goes.

I also want to start doing more activities with Kaia now that she’s getting older, more nimble, and has increasing awareness of her surroundings. I’d like to take her to the zoo, the aquarium, and do more arts and crafts and cooking. I’m looking forward to the day when she can help meal prep with me and have already bookmarked some toddler-safe practice knives on our Amazon list.

I still have my usual goal of reading about one book a month. January is a cold, hibernating month, so I tend to read the most books this month most years. I’ve already finished one book this month — a mystery/thriller novel called A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto. I decided on a Japanese author so that I could relive the sounds and sights of Japan.

More goals and things to do will follow, but these have been what’s on my mind for now.

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