Wednesday, December 25, 2013

the birth of a heart


the leaves in our bountifully wooded yard are clumping in bothersome, wet piles, resistant to all attempts of blowing and raking. loverboy is home for two days, going crazy because of all the yardwork-halting rain. the muncher is happily crawling everywhere willy nilly and we are stocking up on baby gates. and thanks to that 24-hour visit to the ER a few weeks ago and a recent bout of sickness, we've been hunkering down at home in true winter fashion. in other words, 'tis the season to be grateful.

i think maybe it's unfortunate that i can't think of happiness without sadness. i can't think of birth without death. maybe it's because, as they say – they are two sides of one coin. the bookends of what it is to be human. but it's really, i think, just because of my own history. and when you've spent so long miserably, bitterly wishing you could change—or just forget—your own history, it comes as a surprise, a shock, a wonder, to find that you do not want to miss another second of life. to find that you must open your eyes. open your heart. to find that you have a heart. that with the birth of your own child, you've birthed a new heart. or maybe it's your old heart, just reshaped: a mother's heart.

“Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” 
 Elizabeth Stone

it is frightening, it is wonderful.

the first week home with my baby i cried because it was going by too fast. because i knew that it was only the beginning of a lifetime with him, and that a lifetime would never be enough. i cried in anticipation of the bittersweet passing of babyhood into childhood and then adulthood. i could taste the pangs of missing his brand-newness already. i cried because i couldn't stop time, and oh, how i wanted to. i'd cried for the same reason in a completely different moment before, and maybe that is what informed this feeling. i knew the fragility, the ephemeralness of human life.

i have so much gratitude for this year. not just because motherhood is more magical than i ever could have imagined. not just because this baby of mine has a smile to light up the moon. not just because i get to spend all my days watching him pull himself up on our baby gates and stomp his little foot, determined to find a way over it, which will probably happen by tomorrow.

but also for this heart.

my response so long has been to stay busy. to stay ahead of it. to keep moving. and now i have to slow down. to get on eye level with the carpet. to crawl. to marvel over crinkly paper and the perfect shape of a button and the thwang of a doorstop and the taste of a table leg.

this heart walking around outside of me has been a salvation to me. teaching me again, to crawl, to see, to taste, to feel.

i cannot comprehend yet, the healing of this new heart. but i am so thankful and so much more in love with my God, every day.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

thankful for a happy, healthy baby

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last thursday we were in the children's hospital with wilder, which was so scary and awful, but everything turned out fine and the neurologists diagnosed him with the apparently completely harmless "shuddering spells." we are so thankful to the Lord Jesus to be able to go home with him safe and healthy. it's made me feel that parenting is just about the scariest thing you can ever do. and i really feel for all the parents whose children are in the hospital with worse conditions. i don't ever want to take his health for granted. we are so, so blessed.

also, both of us somehow picked up fevers and runny noses from our 24 hours in the ER/hospital, and so this week we have been laying low, as you can imagine. except wilder, who is thrilled to be home and back on the floor where he can crawl to his heart's content. 

anyhow, now that we are home and happy and healthy, i wanted to share a few photos from over thanksgiving weekend of my boys playing. they have this special game where papa waves a sheet over wilder and wilder waves his hands around and giggles (this was pre-crawling). it's moments like these that make me wish we could stop time—or maybe bottle it up to be relived again and again.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

lunch is served

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gee golly frankenstein, thanksgiving sure is a lot of work! we made the turkey, a jalapeno red pepper cranberry relish, traditional stuffing, a gravy and some pies, and loverboy's mama contributed most of the side dishes. i think after we'd all stuffed ourselves silly and had played with the baby to our heart's delight and the grandparents had gone home and it was finally bedtime, loverboy and i looked at each other and were really thankful for all the mamas in our lives who have made thanksgiving for us all these years.

per tradition, i made apple and pumpkin pie again. however, i used a new pumpkin pie recipe from bon appetit (is it just me or do the BA recipes never seem to come out as good as they sound??), which i wasn't too thrilled with. and also, i used a food processor to make my crust for the first time and it wasn't up to its usual standard either. frankly, it was a bit of a thanksgiving tragedy. because as we all know, pie is really what thanksgiving is all about. i mean, that and giving thanks of course.

i've been making best friends with my bed again lately. loverboy took an extra day off work, which has been wonderful after the past few rather tiring months of him working late every day. so this weekend we spent some good time trying to go to bed early and sleep late. no, actually, that's a total lie. we didn't do that at all. but i think we got a few naps in there.

mama also finally got to use her birthday massage gift so i have to say that all in all, this thanksgiving was pretty great.

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thanksgiving breakfast, reading up on how to make a turkey...we do things last minute here:)
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contain your excitement lars.
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the turkey. who doesn't love a raw turkey photo? :/
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lunch! 
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pie-making. i'm convinced that bon appetit always leaves a step or two out of their recipes. 
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these two are always laughing together.
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biggest ratio of dishes to mouths at thanksgiving ever
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i'm so in love with this face.
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bedtime reading with papa is the best.
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baby feet!

so thankful for this sweet family of mine. they are kind of where it's at.

to next year! when everything will be made from a box! except the pie of course.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

family thanksgivings growing up

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thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. growing up, my extended family would gather at my grandparents' house in west texas for thanksgiving, which was spent eating too much pie, playing spoons or canasta late into the night, drinking wine, climbing their mountain, and sometimes, going to a star party at the McDonald Observatory, or taking a trip to Marfa for the famed modern art museum. i also spent lots of time holed up with the huge collection of sci-fi books my grandfather had acquired and avoiding chores. it was always a highlight of the year, especially seeing all my cousins. i remember one year we made 11 pies (for 40+ people). i also seem to remember that my uncle james made a stellar dressing. and my aunt roberta usually contributed something very untraditional but delicious. i will never forget that green chili with venison. i loved that my grandmother always had cheese and bread in the fridge when we arrived from our 8-hr long drive—and espresso and a big tin of biscotti for breakfast. and my favorite was to see all my aunts in the kitchen, laughing and reminiscing together while they cooked.

i really miss my family during this time of year, now that we live in Georgia and it usually doesn't work out for us to get back to texas. but this year, we are making thanksgiving at our house! it is quite exciting, though i would much prefer to have all my family around me to help make (and eat) it. and since the only thanksgiving dish i've ever in my life made is pie, i thought that this year we'd go ahead and make everything! sounds reasonable, right? actually, my in-laws are making most of the sides, but still.

yesterday i got a head start with the gravy and a spicy red pepper cranberry relish. today it's dressing and pie-prep, so that hopefully tomorrow there won't be a crazy amount of chaos (of course there will be, otherwise it's not thanksgiving, right?).

i'm so excited. especially for the pie. :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

remembering to treasure this

when i'm in the middle of a hard night of little sleep, which is usually followed by a long day (of no napping)—which seems to be happening a lot recently, it can be easy to want to check out. to let my mind wander to the weekend when wilder's playing on the floor. to check my email while i'm feeding him. to moan when he wakes up from only a thirty-minute nap. it's hard to be "on" every minute of every day.

but sometimes in bed at night loverboy and i watch videos we've taken of him on our phones and then, as i'm watching a video from only a month ago of him, i remember how fleeting this time is. and i'm encouraged to keep being present for every moment. i re-remember how exquisitely, painfully precious these every moments are. how evanescent. it makes me sad a little. but mostly, it makes me happy that i get to spend these moments with him. no matter how sleep deprived. i'm lucky.

now, if you so choose, behold the wonder of wilder's first time on the swings:




those happy feet kill me

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

saturday at the park

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hello from the park! sometimes, on chilly grey saturdays, the only thing for it is to go to the park.

wilder loves swinging. i'm not sure but it almost seems like he could swing for hours, which is astonishing all in itself. but, as it's the only thing he can do at the park so far, it's always kind of a short trip. i guess the truth is mama can't push a swing for hours.

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strings! and tags! the importance of them supercedes all other concerns.
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even slides. slides are of no importance whatsoever.
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what are we moving?
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mama is much too excited about the slides.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

life in these parts

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my baby is growing up too fast. and also, we stuck our heads outside for a bit yesterday and it was lovely. i'd forgotten just how much i love this time of year. it's visceral. the crackly leaves, the smells of fire, the darkening skies, the dreams of hot cocoa and toasty marshmallows.

we've been hunkering down here a bit, while papa works really hard, and so the past three weeks have gone by like a blur, with probably lots to say, but not a lot of energy to say it.

but papa came home early for the second night in a row and the weather outside is delightful and we pulled the last of the meals i froze in preparation for baby out of the freezer so i haven't had to cook all week! and, thanks to daylight savings, i almost feel caught up on sleep. it's really quite nice.

so here's just a few photos from last night of my two handsome boys. we really love it when papa is home. we also love boxes.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

pumpkins and candy

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although we don't celebrate halloween, this season is practically begging you to stuff your face with candy, carve a pumpkin or two (the one on the left is my first one ever!), and have a Harry Potter marathon. and so that's what we've been doing...

growing up, my mom and another family we were close to would get together and have treasure hunts for yummy treats like pumpkin pies instead of dressing up and trick or treating. but these days, it's all about the store bought candy. except not the scream cadbury eggs. ew, yuck!

my favorite candy is twizzlers. usually i try not to buy them because once i have one, i can't stop myself. it's frightening.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

johnny's so long at the fair

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on saturday we bundled up the baby and drove down to the Georgia State Fair, which moved this year (apparently, according to the Houston Chronicle which seems like an odd place to learn about the Georgia State Fair...) to a new location: the parking lot of the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. now, if concrete and yellow parking lines under foot don't scream Fair! to you, i can't say as i recommend it. it was much more like a carnival than a fair. re: toothless, one-armed hagglers selling candy apples and the chance to win a mask for $3! and the smallest carousel i've ever seen.

but on a happier note: fried everything. and a petting (feeding) zoo!

the sun was shining. the day was cool. we rode the carousel, we won some masks, we fed some goats and we conquered many fried foods.

we didn't see any clowns. but there was one really cute Wiley Bear.

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and his mama and papa
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Monday, October 21, 2013

portrait of a mother

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my guilty motherhood issues begin with a pizza.

i made a pizza the other night for dinner. you know. you saw it. it was not an artisanal, made-my-own-dough-from-scratch pizza. not a gluten-free pizza (sorry loverboy). not even a whole wheat pizza. a straight up pillsbury-dough-boy, cheddar-cheese supplementing-the-"pizza"-cheese, cut-up-tomato-masquerading-as-toppings pizza. and i'm not ashamed. i am, kind of. but, really, no i'm not.

loverboy says to me, as we're stealthily shoveling pizza in our faces in the den because it's farther from the nursery and the baby has been sleep-regressing (yeah, that's what we're calling it) and also he can hear your socks crinkling is how light a sleeper he is, "this pizza is totally a rebecca pizza."

"the taste of it reminds me of you. the simplicity of it."

that's when i really looked at the pizza and realized how bad it was. so, either i'm cheap or i'm lacking in finesse or i'm boring. (if you say 'or all of the above' i'll hurl something. probably a cheap pizza.)

i don't know if you know this but being compared to lame pizza is not exactly an ego booster. because here's the thing, the pizza does say something about me.

it says: when i put my mind to it, i can make a very lackluster pizza.

and also: i'm not a perfectionist. and yes, i'm maybe kind of utilitarian. as in, robotic.

i've been accused of being robotic about things before — cooking, usually. which i consider a terrible and accurate criticism. terrible because i do actually like cooking. or i used to. i think. i mean, i love food. i love cooking utensils. i love reading recipes. i like gatherings around food. so, i must like making food, right?

and accurate because, um, bad pizza.

here's the thing—feelings of guilt and inadequacy reach their peak in motherhood. or at least, it seems to be that way in this day and age. everywhere you look, you are reading about what it means to succeed, whether women can have it all, or have enough and what that looks like anyways. and if not, then you're reading about what you should be doing. seriously, my to-do list has hit an all-time freneticness. (i have to say though that loverboy has always been amazingly supportive and helpful and never pressures me to make dinner or complains about what i've made. the pressure and guilt are all self-inflicted.)

but then i had another thought: dinner is at the bottom of my to-do list. and i'm okay with that, at least for right now. (clarification: making dinner is at the bottom. eating it is always at the top!;)

last week was one of those weeks. you know those weeks? when your loverboy is working late hours and it's up to you to entertain, bathe, feed and put the baby down, whilst simultaneously making your own dinner and also, maybe keeping the rest of this machine we call a household going. it is a machine. and yes, sometimes what you get is a cog in the wheel, not roses for smelling. (mixed metaphors are my true artform).

i don't know how anyone else does it. those wonder moms who somehow create culinary masterpieces, work full-time jobs outside the home and probably have 2 or 3 more munchkins than i have. or those single moms who never have an extra set of hands around. let's nominate those women for medals of honor!

mothers are machines, in the best sense of the word. but—and maybe this is my real point?—artists, too.

i may not make a succulent, bon-appetît-worthy spread every night—or even every week.

i may pinterest far more cute, home-made, craftsy projects than i actually do. (i might not even do one.)

i may sometimes take a picture for the sake of having a picture, instead of getting the artsy shot.

i may shop at target instead of cool, vintage stores.

i may occasionally (usually) make pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin.

i may buy my mini cacti at ikea.

but i am an artist.

my artistry is—

learning the perfect kissable spot on wilder's back to get his laughs out.

cooking, blending, freezing, thawing and mixing vegetable after vegetable to find one he likes.

wiping the water away from his eyes during bathtime. and towelling him off ever so gently afterwards, so that he will not get grumpy. 

using special voices to make goodnight gorilla a little more interesting. 

row, row, row-ing your boat on the living room floor during the dinner hour (aka fussy hour), instead of kneading dough in the kitchen. (if i'm gonna knead dough, there better be scones happening!)

there will come a day when i will like the kitchen again and whip out mouthwatering, gourmet dinners (and i dream of jeannie, too;).

but for now, i am shaping something else. he matters more, i think.

thanks to store-bought, pillsbury dough boy pizza crusts everywhere for enabling this true confession of an epiphany,

xx, 

mother B.

Friday, October 18, 2013

of pumpkins and cookies

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cookies are really hard to make. i know you probably think that's ludicrous because everyone can make cookies. even my friend's kid makes them. he's three. to be fair, i'm pretty sure judging by the fact that they each had a neat little picture of the cars characters on them, they were break and bake. but still. i know. cookies are baking elementary. right?

wrong! cookies are the holy grail of baking. yeah, you didn't see that coming, did you. well, it's true.

to me, pies are a cinch in comparison. and listen, i enjoy cutting the butter into the flour just as much as the next person, but that's really as hard as it gets.

but cookies....aaaah. where do i begin? i've been trying cookie recipe after cookie recipe for hello, all my life, and sometimes a recipe will come out right and then the next time, poof! it's all off. i can't figure it out.

the chocolate chip cookie is the worst. my mom made chocolate chip cookies every week for my entire childhood. maybe even twice a week, who knows. and yet, i can't find and reproduce the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe more than twice. it's tragic is what it is.

a few years ago i was really, really lusting after the perfect pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. it was mystifyingly hard to find even one recipe. and then the few i did find were just awful. (or else i'm no good at baking cookies???)

so, as soon as i saw this recipe on hey natalie jean, i had to make them! and let me tell you, they are really as good as she says. i can't vouch for their ability to be just as good the second time around, but this first time, they were top notch.

i'll let you be the judge. go bake your own. these are about to all be in my tummy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

my (yester)day

in photos:


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"a morning without coffee is like sleep." — someone wise
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cooked carrots for baby food.
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playtime.
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he didn't want to eat his carrots.
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mama eats lunch on the floor.
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a little writing while the baby naps.
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making myself presentable...at 2 p.m. we're on baby time.
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free sweet potato and toasted marshmallow Jeni's ice cream in Decatur!
and now this day is a success!
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the bouncer is one cute dude. maybe i'm biased.
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all the dishes are almost done. for now.
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carrots mixed with sweet potato. a no go. 
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freezing the carrots and rinsing strawberries in vinegar water.
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afternoon snack and baby signing time. on the floor, of course.
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this little bear gets grumpy after his bath. too much toweling!
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story time!
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this basket is never empty for long.
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my idea of cooking dinner these days.