Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day...it's all about me!

I love being a mom.  I love waking up and seeing my daughters and holding their still sleep-warmed bodies in my arms.  They are getting to the age where I look forward to our days together and what adventures might await us. When they were babies it was harder to approach the day with any thoughts other than schedules, meals, naps. Now we can color, play play-doh, walk (skip! run!) to the park, pick flowers (dandelions) in the yard, eat ice cream, snuggle and watch movies together on a rainy day, etc etc.  These days together are becoming more fun and less work.  I say that rather loosely, because they are still a lot of work, but now there's less drudgery during the day and more happy moments. In a few words...we are settling in.  We are settling into our family, finding a rhythm.  A beautiful rhythm I love.

I mean, how can you not adore a day spent with these two?




Life is good.  I spend most days home with the girls, but have my job at the bakery a few mornings a week to give me some adult time and do something I adore.  Still...I need some me time.  I have been finding less and less time to connect with me lately.  I found myself looking in the mirror the other day and thinking, "I look like your typical middle-aged mom.  I feel identityless...I look and feel like every other sleep-deprived, haggard, slightly overweight, unkempt mother out there.  And how, how did I become that woman?"  I didn't like the way I looked, the way I felt, the way I was a little perplexed about who this person was staring back at me in the mirror.  This was not an overnight change, this is something that's been in the works for the past few years, and that has slowly crept up on me.  I was suddenly staring at a person I don't really want to be.  Huh.

So, here we are at Mother's Day.  Mace asked what I'd like to do for the "big day", and the only thing I could think of was: be all alone by myself.  That would be the most beautiful gift in the world.  I couldn't say the words though. They felt selfish and wrong.  Except, that I never ever get to be selfish anymore.  And the more I stewed on this thought, the more I only wanted to be completely alone on Mother's Day.  And so, I finally spoke the words, cringed a little bit and heard from my ever-patient, ever-awesome husband, "Do it!".

And now I'm alone.  I'm drinking a beer and writing (something that's been desperately missing from my life) and soaking up the complete silence surrounding me.  Peace.  And.  Quiet.  This might  have to become a tradition.  It's Mother's Day.  A day for me.  And I'm taking it!

Happy Mother's Day to all my moms and all the moms I love out there.  Hope you're finding yourself in this beautiful day.  XOXO

Monday, December 9, 2013

Renewed

First, let me introduce you to my newest niece, Riley Marie.  She is every bit of perfect.


When we walked into the hospital room to meet her, the air was charged with newness, love, life.  I could feel God there as strong as I ever have.  I feel that a new baby is the closest a person can come to physically touching God. A way to remind us, as humans, about the true beauty of life.  There wasn't space for anything else in that hospital room but joy.  Thank you Riley, for bringing so much joy to our family.

This scene brought me instantly back to the day both my girls were born, breathing in their softness and breathing love out of every pore of my body. It recharged me and it renewed my love for them in a way that surprised me.  It reminded me of all the promises I made about the kind of mother I was going to be....and how many of those promises have taken a back seat as life has taken over.  I mulled those promises over in my mind as my girls slept in the backseat, and I drove the hour home from the hospital the night Riley was born.

Which of these promises were made out of fantastical ideas of motherhood while I was still pregnant, and which are realistic enough to start anew?  Which vows can I renew to my girls?  And which have I made since entering parenthood that are waiting to be fulfilled?

These are the vows I can honestly and truly renew to you, Anna and Claire.  While this list will certainly be added to, these are the promises I make to you today.  You are my monkeys, my sunshines, my kisses and hugs.  You are my Bean, my Muppet, my breath and my air.  You make my world go round, every single day.  My life would be empty without you in it, and because of this great void you fill in my life...

I vow to tell you I love you every single day.

I vow to love you absolutely and unconditionally.

I vow to be present with you.  I will set aside time from the dishes, the phone and all life's distractions to be totally focused and present with you every single day.

I vow to be kind, loving and respectful towards you.

I vow to be patient with you, though I cannot vow to never lose my cool....I do, however, vow to always apologize if I hurt you in any way or lose my temper.

I vow to be an adult you can trust, no matter what.  You can come to me with anything and I will listen with an open heart and ears.  No matter what it is, we will get through it together.

I vow to set limits so that you stay safe.

I vow to stand back and let you make mistakes, as long as you are safe, so you can learn to make good decisions in your future.

I vow to listen to you.  I will listen to your ideas, your words and your stories with open ears.

I vow to talk healthily and respectfully about my body and yours, in order to give you the fighting chance at a healthy body image.

I vow to feed you nutritious meals and to teach you about healthy eating.

I vow to also sneak in a treat or two.

I vow to remain active so I can be a role model, and to encourage you to be active as well.

I vow to laugh with you, have fun with you and be a little bit silly as often as possible.

I vow to talk daily about our family that does not live near, so that you may know them through me until you are with them again.

I vow to encourage your interests.

I vow to to instill in you a strong love for God and Jesus.

I vow to be your mama for always and forever.  To wrap you tightly in my arms as long as I can...then open them and watch you fly, with the total trust and understanding that I will always be your soft space to land.

I love you Anna.  I love you Claire.  With all my great big heart I love you.

And Happy Birthday sweet Riley.  Thank you for reopening my eyes to the beauty of this world, and my daughters. Welcome to this family.  Welcome to this world.  You are already so blessed and so loved.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Claire is 1!


A year is a strange thing.  They can pass by at a pace that makes you want to scream at time to hurry up.  But more often, they pass so quickly you can hardly catch your breath before the next one appears.  Such is the case, continually, since I became a mother.  How is it that Claire is one year old already?  Seemingly, one breath ago, she was a helpless life sleeping on my chest, waking me every two hours to eat, awing me with her tiny eyes, nose, mouth, feet.  Awing me with her presence, her life.


And now this life is one amazing year old, awing me still.  Claire, the happiest baby I have ever known...I swear she was born smiling.  She has Mace's happy gentle spirit, Anna's laugh, my smile.  She came into our lives one year ago and completed our family so perfectly, we forget she wasn't always here.  



Claire breathes joy out of every pore of her body.  Her whole body smiles when she does, its impossible not to be just a little happier in her presence.  People constantly stop and grin at her and she does a full body wiggle-smile that I know makes peoples' days.  Apparently she really digs this life thing.



Claire makes my day every single day.  Her gentle, peaceful spirit, her beaming smile, can turn my day around in a heartbeat.  She is one amazing child.  




Claire, on your first birthday I look ahead and see so much brightness and love in your future.  I cannot wait to continue seeing the person you will transform into and to watch you grow.  It is an honor to be your Mama and I love you with all my heart.  Happy #1 my sweet girl.  




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Raspberry Streusel Bars


Something I love about our new lives is the absolute presence of my husband.  For the past three years he was so engulfed by grad school, that being completely present was, understandably, challenging.  These past couple months, since he started working, he has been 110% present in everything we do.  We get out and do things without a deadline and with total leisure.  We enjoy each other, our children, basking in the indulgence of just being together. Oh, the simple pleasures.

Last weekend we decided to take a family outing to Afton Apple Orchard to pick raspberries and apples.  If you know anything about my eldest, its that this girl loves berries more than almost anything on earth.  Girlfriend would eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner if we could afford it.  So, this was obviously heaven on earth to her.  At first, the price of $4/pint seemed steep to us for pick-your-own raspberries...until we realized that we all likely ate our weight in raspberries while we were picking them.




It was a day that was so hot and humid that it was hard to breathe, but it didn't matter an ounce.  We were together, and we were basking in the hot sweaty glow of our togetherness.

We gorged on raspberries and apples.




There was a petting zoo and we met this guy.

Llamas are hilarious by the way.

And when we got home, I made these delicious raspberry bars.  Actually, delicious doesn't quite capture the essence of these bars.  Amazing, awesome. So. Damn. Good. There is 18 tablespoons of butter in one little 9' x 13" pan.  If that doesn't clear up how good these bars are, then you probably don't know anything about butter (I forgive you)...but you'll still love these bars.


PRINT THIS RECIPE

Raspberry Streusel Bars
Serves 12-15
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, cut into 1" pieces and softened
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
3/4 cup (8 1/2 ounces) raspberry jam
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) fresh raspberries

Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat oven to 375F.  Line 9" x 13" pan with tin foil, allowing it to hang over the edges to easily remove the bars later.  Grease foil and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix flour, granulated sugar and salt on low speed until combined.  Add the 1 cup of butter a piece at a time, then continue mixing until the mixture resembles wet sand, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

Measure 1 1/4 cups loosely packed flour mixture into a separate medium bowl and set aside.  Dump the rest of the flour mixture into the prepared pan and, using clean hands, firmly and evenly press the mixture into place to cover the bottom of the pan.   Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 14 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, add brown sugar, oats and pecans to the reserved flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and work it into the mixture by rubbing it between your fingers until the butter is incorporated.

Combine jam and raspberries in a small bowl and mash gently with a fork until combined but some raspberry pieces remain.

Spread jam mixture evenly over the hot crust.  Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the jam, but do not press it into the topping.  Return pan to the oven and bake until the streusel is a deep golden brown and the jam is bubbling, about 22 to 25 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hours, then remove the bars from the pan by lifting the overhanging foil.  Cut into squares to serve, and then you most certainly should...

EAT IT!!