Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm An Auntie!

My sister delivered her first son, my nephew!, yesterday. It was a bit scary of a start (his APGAR was 1 at birth) and he had some NICU time after an emergency C-section, but he seems to be doing well now.

I won't get to meet him for awhile, as she doesn't want me to come visit until her in-laws leave. So, I have to wait a bit, but I am so excited to snuggle and love on him!

She just missed delivering him on the anniversary of her miscarriage. It is so funny to think that, last year at this time, we were all mourning the loss of her first pregnancy and now we are celebrating the arrival of Ben. I love miracles.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Now, I Just Need To Have A Party

I love having "go to" meals and appetizers, special things that I make when I am entertaining or celebrating. Lately, I am going more towards finger foods and apps when we are having people over. It is less work and people seem to really enjoy having a spread to dig into. It seems like a lot of work, but it really isn't, and most things can be made ahead of time so that you aren't doing a lot of work in the kitchen while everyone is enjoying themselves. It also tends to be kid-friendly and you can have a mix of healthy and indulgent choices.

Here is my standard appetizer spread that I have been serving lately. No, I don't always do everything here, but I usually do most of it. I mean, c'mon, variety is the spice of life, right?! What do you like to serve people?

Baked brie with sliced apples (I wrap and dress the brie that morning, and then just pop it into the oven about fifteen minutes before people arrive. The smell is intoxicating. I slice the apples the morning of as well and lightly toss them in lemon juice to keep them from browning.)
White bean dip (goes with the crackers and veggies) (The dip is best when made a day or two before to really allow the flavors to meld.)
Assorted whole wheat crackers and sliced cheeses
Black bean salsa and tortilla chips (I make the salsa, minus the avocado, the day before and add the avocado right before the party so it doesn't turn brown.)
Assorted raw veggies and a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing (the veggies also dip into everything else) (Again, this dressing is best made at least a day before.)
Spinach Dip* (the crackers and veggies both are great dippers, you can also do thin slices of baguette) (Another dip that is best when made a day or two in advance - sense a theme here?)
Mini meatballs in a sweet n sour sauce (I love these meatballs, they are amazing and it makes serving so easy - just add the sauce (and I have also totally cheated and used bottled sauce before, too) and warm them in the crock pot. Done. But, if you want to make your own, you can make them and then freeze them to use when you need them. Equally easy.)
Steak Canapes (You can make the steak and onions ahead of time and then assemble the canapes and have them waiting on a baking sheet when your guests arrive.)
Assorted fruits and a fruit dip (if I am feeling really fancy, I will make fruit skewers)
I also like putting out dishes of truly kid-friendly things like chex mix, goldfish crackers and raisins. I find that the adults indulge, too!

So, as you can see, pretty much everything can be made the day or two before. . . and just put it out, warm it up, and dig in. I am now officially hungry.

*I do play with this recipe, but it is my favorite "base" recipe. The dash of hot sauce makes the dish. I use double the spinach listed and I also use marinated artichoke hearts. It gives it that extra yum!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mismatched, Mishmashed

It's so funny the spot I find myself in now. It's an odd place to be, where I don't quite fit in anywhere.

I am not quite a working mom yet. I am still home with the kids. I won't even be back at work for over a month.

I am not quite a SAHM anymore, either. My SAHM-friends are already making plans that won't include me. They aren't being exclusive, but it's a fact that I won't be able to sign up for Mommy n' Me classes that will go until December and I won't be able to help start a co-op art class that probably won't get off the ground until after the New Year. The reality is that our lives are already separating. We will remain friends, but things will change.

I have tried to stay in the moment, but it's also very hard to see all of the exquisitely tiny things that children do every day and know that soon, I won't be seeing them. Like Will waking up from a nap with bedhead and half-closed eyes, yet reaching for me for a sweaty, little boy-hug. Like making a tent in his bed and snuggling down with him and Emma and a pile of books and stopping to notice the perfection of their little feet. And though it sounds dreadfully "1950 called and would like its housewife back", I have enjoyed the little things along the way. I enjoy the homemaking part of homemaking. I love preparing dinner, I love slicing vegetables for a salad, baking a cake for dessert, lighting candles that smell of cinnamon and pumpkin, and tidying the house before M gets home (but I draw the line at fluffing my hair, washing the kids' faces, or making him a martini - he doesn't like them). It's not that I won't get to do these things anymore, but I know it, too, will change.

Lest I wax too poetically, let me also assure you that I have felt frustrated on days with no schedule, where I seem busy all day with nothing to show for it at the end. Days when dinner is the only thing burning and the house is a disaster when M walks in (and I am drinking a martini). The days when Will throws a legendary tantrum, that ends with me yelling at him and feeling badly and wondering if they wouldn't be better off with someone professionally trained on how to deal with a toddler. There have been days when I have looked at the long-neglected suits in my closet, packed carefully away in their garment bags, and thought longingly of putting one on and feeling that "I'm someone" feeling that you get when you slide them on (people treat you very differently when you wear a suit and have hair that is styled and make up that took more than two minutes to glob on).

So, as you can see, I continue to live in this in-between world, partially longing to stay where I am and partially excited to venture forth. October feels forever away and tomorrow all at once.

* * *

This returning to work thing is complicated. I have many thoughts and feelings that I can't share here in this public space. I can't really discuss much about work on here and I have come to the conclusion that it will be best if I have a password protected blog for readers that are interested in knowing more about our decision and personal things about my transition to a working mother. I will be keeping this blog open for general stories about Will and Emma, my continued thoughts on parenting after infertility and loss, and lighthearted reads about our lives together. If you are interested in following the less-public version of the story, please either leave a comment with your name and e-mail address or e-mail me with the information.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peyton

I have spoken briefly of Peyton here before. Last November, a former coworker's little girl was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

I remember the moment I found out. I had been talking to another former coworker and she asked if I had heard about Peyton. She was fuzzy on the details, but knew the diagnosis was BAD. I was FB friends with Chad still, so I hopped over to his Wall where I found out the name of Peyton's tumor, a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), I did some research and found out that it was a death sentence.

Slowly, I came to learn more about DIPG and what it means when a child is diagnosed with it. I have watched as Peyton and her family have traveled a horrific road that is beyond comprehension.

There have been some bright spots along the way. Elizabeth Rudkin has to be one of the most amazing, courageous, composed women I have ever met. She is an inspiration. While caring for a terminally ill daughter, she has also somehow found the time to establish Peyton's Ranch, a non-profit matching sick kids with comfort animals. She also threw a "launch party" for Peyton that was the most amazing event I have ever been to (Of course, I overheard her tell someone that it had to be: It was Peyton's Sweet Sixteen, Prom, and Wedding all rolled into one event. Heart. Breaking.). Seeing something good coming from this tragedy does have a way of soothing broken hearts.

But nothing can soothe those who love and care for Peyton right now. She is dying. Watching a child die. . . there are no words.

Again, there are some bright spots. If you have a box of tissue handy, watch this video. Peyton's seventh birthday was Tuesday this is a video a friend put together of the day's events, which included a visit from one of Peyton's favorite artists, Mike Wagoner. What amazes me most about this video is what has inspired me this entire time: Elizabeth's calmness, ability to smile, and the fact that, despite being incredibly ill, Peyton looks so peaceful on her mommy's lap. There are moments in my day where, for whatever reason, I lose sight of what is truly important. Watching Elizabeth and Peyton together puts that right back into perspective.

In any case, if you are the praying time, please pray for Peyton and her family. If you are the positive thinking type, please send those vibes to them. They need them.