Charlee turns a month, Zaida turns 70, and a brave turkey gives its life

Not only did we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, but Friday was my father’s 70th birthday and today we celebrate Charlee turning one month old. This week was a biggie, so let’s take it from the top…

Thanksgiving is technically a religious holiday in Canada; aligned with thanking God for a bountiful, Canadian harvest. I like to think of it as the statutory holiday of which our country’s cultural melting pot gets to enjoy.

Ironically, being off of work this year for parental leave, the reality of statutory holidays, let alone a weekend versus weekday, is inconsequential to me… sorry to rub it in. But what that does mean for me, is that I can genuinely take the opportunity to reflect on the day and be thankful for so much.

For starters, I’m thankful for our nearly 10 pound bundle of beauty, known as Charlee. She is truly a blessing and this whole notion of fatherhood is certainly settling in. I’m thankful for Becca, the love of my life, without whom I would be incomplete. I’m most definitely grateful for Party, who keeps me on my toes, and shows unconditional love (as he’s parked on my lap right now while I type). I’m fortunate to have a fantastic circle of friends, a stable job that pays the bills and lets us enjoy life, and to own a home that provides comfort, safety, and room for our family to grow.

This year we hosted the Wong family for a Thanksgiving dinner figuring, hey, why not, Charlee is 3 weeks old (at the time), we can juggle her and dinner for 11.

First thing we did was buy a turkey. Google advised that you should factor 2 pounds per person, and without putting much more thought into it, I calculated that we needed a 22 pound turkey. Realize for a moment that 2 of the 11 attendees are Charlee, aged 3 weeks, and Charlee’s cousin Penny, aged 16 months. For Charlee is particular, 2 pounds is over 20% of her body weight… but I digress.

We went to the supermarket and found the frozen turkeys, all categorized by weight – 5-7 kilograms, 8-10 kilograms, and 11-13 kilograms, metricly speaking, of course. To put that in pounds, 11-15 pounds, 17-22 pounds, and 24-28 pounds respectively.

Of course, with my luck, they were completely sold out of the 17-22 pound birds, so in true Goldberg fashion, I erred on the side of overfeed-my-guests, and purchased an 11.5 kilogram turkey, or roughly 25 pounds.

They grow up so fast!
They grow up so fast!

My buddy Jason is a chef and owns a butcher shop around the corner from the house. He put together a fantastic brine recipe for me, which meant that I would need to immerse the bird in the brine and refrigerate it overnight. Because of the sheer size of this turkey, I had to empty out and clean a plastic file box and fill it with around 7 or 8 gallons of brined water, take out all the shelves in the fridge, and let her soak for 24 hours.

The next day, Becca’s mum and her boyfriend came over and helped wrangle the dogs (her’s too) and prep the house for Thanksgiving dinner. I nearly broke my back carrying the turkey and water bucket out of the fridge, but I dried it off and prepared a cheesecloth soaked in butter and wine to help it be even more moist once cooked.

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Finally I made some stuffing, filled the bird and popped it in the oven for nearly 5 hours, basting every 30 minutes.

My hat goes off to Martha Stewart, cause the recipe was brilliant and the bird turned out succulent and tasty.

Becca’s family helped with side dishes, gravy, desserts, and wine, and the dinner went off without a hitch. Charlee was a champ and let us enjoy dinner while she slept, then fed some more and entertained the family with her innate adorableness.

In the end, we had approximately 20 pounds of turkey left, so with that and the abundance of side dishes and desserts, 11 people made off with a weeks worth of leftovers each.

This was our first attempt at a dinner party with Charlee in tow and we were thrilled with how well she did… and I guess how well we did too! It’s nice to test the water by doing a family event. There’s less judgement and more helping hands!

The next test was to come Friday night in celebration of my father’s 70th birthday.

My sister's decorations were a riot
My sister’s decorations were a riot

Fortunately, dad only wanted a small get together with friends and family. I often forget that ‘small get together’ from my dad and step mother’s perspective, is often what others would see as a huge get together. This was no exception, with around 30 people in attendance.

This was also going to test Charlee’s car ride endurance. The longest ride we had done to date was probably a 20 minute stretch wherein she just slept the whole ride away. This was going to be minimum of 30 minutes, but with traffic, it ended up being just shy of an hour.

Charlee was great, and not because she slept through it – on the contrary! She was wide awake, taking in everything along the way. The lights, the sounds, the smells – all the sensations of a drive up from downtown Toronto, to suburbia.

When we arrived, she was inundated by family – not in a bad way – just in the way that family pours over newborns. Everyone wanted to hold her and pass her around. Charlee lately has been having a mild skin irritation, and now knowing the source, we told ourselves that we would ask whomever was holding her to wash their hands first.

That idea was short lived.

I guess on one hand, you want your baby to be free of any toxins, and with Charlee having been in the NICU for the first 4 days of her life, we were a tad shell-shocked when it comes to her health.

On the flip side, you also want her to build up immunity and sometimes the best way is to get elbow deep in people squishing cheeks, and kissing foreheads.

Regardless, Charlee was again, an absolute dream, engaging with people, taking it all in, feeding with Becca, pooping up a storm, and then sleeping it off.

My dad was a very proud Zaida (grandfather) and you could see it on his face. It made me realize that when my father was my age, he had me as a newborn, and now 35 years later it’s my turn with Charlee and his turn as Zaida. May we have many years ahead for Charlee to get to know her Zaida and learn everything he has to teach her.  Having visited with my 90 year old uncle over the summer, I realize how we often take our parents and grandparents for granted, when we should be really maximizing the moments we have with them, and listening to the stories and life experiences they have to share.

My father definitely has stories to share, but is very much to himself and you have to ask the pointed questions to get the answers you want. At times though, he will bring up stories from his past to relate to a conversation or situation we may be discussing. Much of his youth was spent in California in the 60’s where he lived in the Bay area and attended Berkeley. He and my mother were married in 1970 and nine years later they adopted my brother. 11 months later, yours truly came along.

So hip it hurts
So hip it hurts

My dad is excited about my blog and twitter feeds, and I look forward to collaborating on some blog entries in the near future. I think based on his own childhood, he wants to play a much more active role in Charlee’s life, and I look forward to that wholeheartedly.

And that brings us to the other milestone event of the week, Charlee is celebrating one month since her escape from the womb!

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Not to sound too cliched, but wow… where does the time go!

This little angel is at the top of the charts in terms of weight and length (nearly 10 pounds and 23 inches…nearly the size of a 3 month old), and we’re really gunning for her to be the tallest Goldberg to date (anything over 5′ 8 and she wins).

At this one month milestone, I can see the following in Charlee:

  1. She definitely recognizes our voices
  2. She can see and focus on things, be they people, pictures, or the puppy
  3. She is in a routine and we can plan our days and maximize our time around that
  4. She has a sense of humour… trust me, I can tell already
  5. She can communicate, you just need to figure out her cues
  6. She’s most definitely a daddy’s girl… and I’m not complaining!

I have just over 3 short months left before I head back to work, but based on this last month and all that it’s had to offer, I am stoked that the next few will bring lasting memories and huge events that I’ll get to see first hand.

What are your thoughts?

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