“I love you, Mommy!” she said in her sweet sweet voice as I snuggled next to her after agreeing to read ONE more book. Our night time routine has somehow turned into a proper shit-show night after night, so agreeing to read ONE more book ultimately means five or six more, a few songs, a couple made up stories, and a good solid cry from her. Sometimes from me. But this isn’t really about me anymore, is it?
I love you too, sweet darling! I replied while reaching over to pick up one of her new Fancy Nancy books. And right as I thought about sighing away the exhaustion and jealousy from knowing that my husband was in our bed reading a book of his own choosing, she reached up and brushed the hair away from my eyes. Slightly startled, I turned to face her. She wiggled a little to face me while moving her hand down to my cheek and softly whispered, “Wanna get married, Mama?”
Do I want to marry YOU, Eloise?
“Shoooora!” (Sure!) she replied.
Of course I do! I accepted.
She smiled proudly and squeezed my cheek only letting go to reach for my hand. She slyly moved my hand to open the book and said, “Read book, ok Mommy?”
And that was that.
The thing is, is that our day had been pretty ordinary. We ate toast in bed. She drank milk and I chugged two cups of coffee. She watched two episodes of “Max and Woooby” while I nursed Phoebe and flipped through my latest House Beautiful magazine. Then we had our usual battle of the fittest to get ourselves dressed in non-elastic clothes for me and something other than her Thomas the Engine pajama top and ballerina tutu. And while I, of course, ended up losing my particular battle-of-the-bulge yesterday, I did win against her. And in the end, while she still wore pajamas (albeit clean ones!), I did get her to wear some socks AND a jacket. She also wore her hat on the way out to our car. I’ll take any victory great or small. Ok?
We did a typical Target run to buy essentials. Socks to replace the 1 million single socks that have been cremated into dryer lent over the last 4 months, deodorant, a large jar of peanut butter, paper towels, stickers, this really cute set of pajamas, glitter glue, markers, hair clips…you know…the proverbial how-did-it-add-up-to-so-much?-Target-you-slay-me run. I bought her a little shortbread cookie at Starbucks that kept her occupied for a good 3 minutes. I got an espresso. We walked to the park down the street. She threw a fit when we had to leave. I pulled my back out because I’m getting old and decrepit. We played dress-up and drew some pictures. She enjoyed her pasta dinner and whined for more cinnamon on her apple sauce. She threw her cup of milk on the floor. I patiently explained to her that “We don’t throw milk off of the table because it makes a mess!” She laughed. She grabbed a butcher knife from the dishwasher and ran around the island singing, “Argggh! I’m a pirate!” I yelled at her. She laughed. She tried to examine her sister’s eyes with her doctor kit while exclaiming, “Looks great!” Her sister cried. I patiently explained that that could hurt her sister. She laughed.
I’m certain that I said the words “Shit” and “Damn” more than a few times at some point in her ear-shot. I probably said things worse than that. I’m certain I did. She repeated, “Kiss my hand, Mommy! I’m a princess!” 26 times. It would have been 27, but I decided to intervene and kiss her hand. She asked me “Why?” 34 times. I counted. She stole the towel from my hands when I was trying to lift her from the tub, and then she laid down and tucked herself in while resting her head on a foam letter and a rubber ducky. I turned out the bathroom lights, told her “Nigh Nigh!” and whispered, “That was easy!” to my husband as I held up the white flag. He hands me the baby and wrangles her out of the tub as she runs freely down the hall with her towel as a cape. “SUUUUUUPER ELOISE TO THE RESCUE!!!” she yells. I laugh at how cute her little butt looks running from room to room, watching in amazement at how long her legs are.
My husband and I share a moment in the hall when we look down at our baby in my arms and watch our big girl run free and shake our heads in disbelief. And somehow after our day full of ordinary moments, she begs for me to read to her tonight instead of him. And I take her up on it as he heads to our room with the baby to read a few more pages of the book that he just can’t quite finish.
You see, I’ve been waiting for that moment. That little teeny tiny fleeting moment when she looked in my eyes and grabbed my cheek. I knew in that moment that it was working. Everything I had done in the past 28 months was going noticed. She loved me…at least until the teenage years. And she wanted to marry me…at least until she’s old enough to understand what marrying me would do to our family tree. I mean, it’s weird, right? But God, I had to accept her engagement. Because if she promised to love me and cherish me for as long as we both shall live, I would be the happiest and most blushing Bridemom.
She took my butter this morning and ran around the kitchen island. The way she looks right before I start chasing her is a face I have yet to catch on camera. That and the look of concern that she gives me when she finds me crying.
There are days like today when I just let it all go. I let her run around the house with a stick of butter as I chase after her laughing while licking the cookie batter off of my fingers. With Christmas music humming on the speakers and her little sister snug asleep in the swing, there are practically visions of sugarplums when I tell her it’s nap time and she smiles while handing over the butter and says, “Ok Mommy!”
But there are days when I just break down while sitting on the toilet with the door closed. Sometimes I just need a damn minute. I look up to see my pale tired face staring back at me and I think, “What the hell am I doing being a mother?” And damn, I work at it. I really do work. But shit, being a parent is hard.
Aside from the day to day mental challenges of feeling like I don’t contribute to our family financially the way that I could by working outside of the home more often, there is the guilt…good Lord there is this crazy unbelievable guilt that comes with being a mother. Like the times that I’m nursing her sister and she comes over and says, “No feed Phoebe, Mommy! Play with me!” Or when her sister cries impatiently while I cut her sandwich in 4 crust-free squares. Or how about that time I wasn’t paying attention to her and she ate an entire black crayon? I’ll spare the details of what came out 12 hours later. And did you know that sometimes she eats lunch while I shop at the grocery store? Yesterday she had 3 graham crackers, 3 pieces of cheddar bread, a cheese stick, one peppermint patty, and a sugar cookie. Ok two. (Don’t get me started on wife-guilt. That’s a whole ‘nother story for another time in another pair of pajamas.) Are you judging me yet?
But you know what happened yesterday that is quite the miracle? She survived. Hell, we all did. And I got out of that store with a smile on my face. Ok, I’m lying again. I wanted to crawl in a hole and place a sign out front that says, “Peace be with me.”
Parenthood is this crazy thing. It has changed me. My blood boils at a lower temperature. My heart beats an octave higher. My mind races at a new personal best. And my jeans will never fit me ever again. But you know what? When she took that butter from me today, I looked at her hands and a piece of my heart started to break.
Her hands are no longer pudgy little baby hands. And her toes…God, her toes are starting to get long and finger-like much like mine. I didn’t appreciate aging until i became a parent. Before becoming a parent, I would look at a picture and think, “I was so skinny then!” “Look how long my hair was!” Now I look at one and think, “She was so tiny then.” “Look how bald she was!” “She’s growing up so fast!”
You know, to an outsider, it would have looked like a simple butter-chase. But it wasn’t simple. It was complex and emotional. Because I chased that little girl around and around, and with each turn of the island as her little curls flopped side to side, she grew taller and stronger and feistier. This little baby who once crawled away from me up the stairs is now running at full speed while ducking her head around the corners of the counter.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Being a parent is heart-filling and heart-breaking all the same. It’s fun. It’s mundane. It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting. It’s chaotic. It’s humbling. It’s rewarding. It speeds up time while slowing it down. It rips your heart right out of your chest. And damn it, it’s the best thing I ever decided to do.
Hello? Tap tap…Is this thing on? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
11 months away. How is it even possible that I haven’t talked to you in 11 months?
Let’s see…pretty much my life is completely the same and totally different.
The most important thing that happened is that I had another little girl 2 months ago. One good ole try without birth control and BAM! I was pregnant. After struggling to get pregnant and stay pregnant with my first, it was such a surprise to get pregnant so easily this time around. This pregnancy was completely different than my first, but the outcome was, of course, the same. A healthy baby girl!
It’s not all giggles and rainbows around here with a two-year-old and a two month old. Yes, she is cute and sweet and all things baby…but so much sleep deprivation, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, dirty laundry piled on the floor, a load of laundry in the wash that has been washed twice now to get the mildew smell out, a load in the dryer that is wrinkled and not fully dried, a pile of clean unfolded laundry on the bed, and a pile of clean folded laundry on the chair. I think I spied a couple of dust bunnies making babies in the corner this morning. Is it mating season? Who knew! My closet? Still full of maternity clothes and summer sandals. Secretly though, I’m not rushing to get rid of my maternity jeans. I could use a little elastic in my life right now.
We are settling into our little yellow house with a front porch. We closed on it one year ago, and dirty laundry and dust bunnies aside, I love having a house to call our home.
I’m still cooking a lot when I can. Sometimes that means I turn the oven up to 425 and throw in a frozen pizza. Those days are some of my favorite, because..look at me! We had a day from Hell and I’m still feeding my family! Mother of the year? Hardly. Surviver? Absolutely!
Anyways, I miss it here (and I couldn’t let my last post be about a giant pancake). I do catch up on many of your blogs everyday (silent stalker you say?) And I may not post as often as I used to, but I would like to continue writing and posting…and talking to you…whoever you are.
A giant pancake topped with apples!
Without fail, I ALWAYS mess up the first batch of pancakes. The pan is too hot or not hot enough. But alas! One giant pancake made in the oven.
When my parents were in town last weekend to celebrate Christmas before Christmas, I wanted to make something special that allowed me time to visit. So, I gave it a try. It was so light and fluffy….”Better than the diner!” said my very honest and discerning dad. All hail the pancake queen! (That’s me…by the way).
This made 6-8 servings…6 for my family.
Light and Fluffy Baked Apple Pancake (Found in Food & Wine Magazine)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 Golden Delicious apples— halved, peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus warmed syrup for serving
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 375°.
- In a 10 1/2-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, melt the butter.
- Add the apples, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden, about 6 minutes.
- Add the 1/4 cup of maple syrup and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 1 minute. Spread the apples in an even layer and remove the pan from the heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
- In a measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks with the milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients.
- In a medium bowl, using a mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes.
- Fold the beaten whites into the batter and scrape it over the apples; spread the batter to the edge.
- Bake the pancake in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes, until it is golden, puffed and set. Let the pancake cool for 5 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge to loosen the pancake, then invert it onto a serving plate. Replace any apples that may have stuck to the pan.
- Cut the pancake into wedges and serve at once with the warmed maple syrup.
Ohhhh yeah…I finally found a recipe for broccoli and cheddar soup that gives me those warm fuzzy feelings and hugs me back. And yes, it also hugs to my hips a little bit too. But keep the portion small and then you can have 2 bowls. Right? (Also to note- I doubled the recipe and the leftovers froze beautifully!)
Cheesy Broccoli Soup (recipe derived from here)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup yellow onions
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups chicken stock (I used low-sodium)
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli, thawed and separated
- 2-3 crowns fresh broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 cup milk (recipe calls for heavy cream)
- 1 1/4 cups shredded medium Cheddar
- In a medium pot, melt the 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme cook, stirring, until fragrant, for 20 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring until the mixture is well blended and smells fragrant, 2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring, until tender, for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and puree with a hand-held blender (Alternatively, in batches, puree in a blender or food processor and return to the pot. I used a blender and only blended 3/4 of the pot so I left some chunkiness and texture.)
- Add the cream/milk and bring to simmer to heat through. Add the cheese and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted.
- Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle croutons over the top of the soup and serve immediately.
- 2-3 cups 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubed French bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon seasoning (I just used salt and pepper)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the bread in a medium bowl and toss with oil and seasoning. Spread evenly on a small baking sheet and bake, stirring twice, until light golden brown on top, about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.
- Top soup with croutons and a little cheese.
My Darling Girl,
Last night, you hugged me so tightly that I barely needed to hold onto you while we headed up the stairs for bed. You had your new baby doll by her arm and you kept giving her kisses with each step. I wanted to hug you as tightly as I could. I wanted to put you safely back inside where you started. When I was pregnant with you, you were mine alone. And when you were born, my heart was suddenly and miraculously beating outside of my chest.
But what a joy you are for the world! I was being selfish in wishing I could keep you for my own…keeping you from discovering this wonderful life that we live. But in the same breath, I wanted to keep you safe. And we have tried our best to keep you safe. We watch you at all times. We put plugs in the outlets. We feed you healthy food and take you to your pediatrician for vaccinations and check-ups. We make sure that you get enough sleep. We wash our hands and tell you to sit down in your bath. We bought a mini-tree and put it high up on a table. We bought a house in a great school district so you will thrive in school. And with all that we do to try and keep you safe and help you grow, it pains me that all of this may not be enough. And it saddens me that one day your Daddy and I will have to teach your innocent mind and joy-filled heart about random acts of violence. Unfortunately, it won’t be a choice of ours to make.
But for now, my sweet girl…just keep holding onto me with each step and I promise to show you all the beauty in the world that we can find.
I love you.
Looking for a new Holiday cookie that will knock your neighbors’ socks off? Search no more. I found this perfect recipe in my treasured Food and Wine Magazine under an appropriate title of “Cravings.” Well, hot damn! The cookie dough alone could have won the prize, but the finished cookie tastes like a hybrid of Oreo/Peppermint Patty/Thin Mint all in one. Perfection!
(makes 24 sandwich cookies)
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup black cocoa (I used Hershey’s Dark cocoa powder)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teasoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Ghirardelli)
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup marshmallow creme
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- Sift flour into bowl with cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl, using a mixer to beat butter with sugar until creamy. Add melted chocolate, egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Beat in dry ingredients until incorporated.
- Pat dough into 4 disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm (~20 mins)
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Use flour and roll out disk of dough 1/4 inch thick. Stamp out as many cookie as possible using a 2-3 in cookie cutter (I used the rim of a juice glass). Transfer to cookie sheet. Chill cut cookies for 5 minutes (I didn’t do this…I was impatient).
- Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes and transfer to cooling rack.
- Make filling: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, marshmallow creme, and powdered sugar until fluffy. beat in peppermint extract.
- Put filling in ziplock/sandwich bag and cut bottom corner at diagonal.
- Pipe filling onto underside of cookie and press another cookie on top. Let set.
- I then melted white chocolate in the microwave and used a fork to make a pretty drizzle.
Hello? Are you still out there?
Man oh man, November was a doozy. We spent the first week packing. Then the next week was spent unpacking. Then the next week after that was spent…unpacking. Oh and this week? Still have a closet full of boxes. There is nothing I loathe more than unpacking…boxes or suitcases for that matter.
But we are getting settled in the new house, and we couldn’t love it more. Pictures to come soon!