firstborn

Here I am 36 weeks pregnant with our first born.

This is me at 36 weeks pregnant with Jessica

Since then we’ve documented all of her firsts.

First time in an official outfit:

Jessica

First night in a big girl bed:

Jessica's first night in the big bed

First official sleep-over:

Jessica and Anna's first sleep over!

First pony-tail:

Jessica's first pony tail

First haircut:

Getting first hair cut

And countless other firsts. Steps, running, first seasons, days of school, traditions and holidays. First time meeting out of town Grandparents, Mother’s Day programs and parades. Firsts!

It’s my job to be there for them. To be there for her.

Aaron works crazy long hours, he’s not available to eat hot lunch with her or help in her classroom. That’s my job, one I’m proud of. One I take very seriously. One of the things I absolutely love about being a mom. Her mom.

GAH!!!!! I’ve been meaning to put this certain date on the calendar. I’ve circled it three times on the take home newsletters and the mountain of paper that comes home with her from school. I’ve ear-tagged certain “reminders” so I won’t forget that coming at the end of this month? There’s a Pumpkin Carnival at her school where she’ll get to show us what she’s learning and we’ll carve pumpkins together.

Turns out? It’s the end of the month.

SHIT SHIT SHIT.

I forgot that today was the day of her Pumpkin Carnival and now so many things about her day make so much more sense:

Me: Did you learn a letter today?

Her: No.

Me: Did you do numbers instead?

Her: No, Mom.

Me: Music? Art? What did you do today? I want to hear all about it 🙂

Her: **Hemming, hawing.** Nothing, really. My day was good. I had a good day.

I don’t generally get farther than this unless there’s a snack involved and all the other fairies flying around in her head have been calmed so I dropped it and we went to see the waves at the beach.

Then she took out this special bag she had gotten that day – it was full of trinkets and candy, some popcorn. I deduced that it was her teachers Halloween Treat to the class. She didn’t correct me.

Then we sat down to eat dinner and she finally started telling me about her day … how there was this carnival and everyone’s mom was there and I missed it and she was sad because she was expecting me and I didn’t come.

Oh. My. Word. Today? Today was that day? I started crying and she immdiately took care of my emotional needs when I was trying to take care of her’s.

Her: Mom, it’s ok. I was disappointed but it’s ok. It didn’t really matter. I don’t really care.

Me: ::Crying:: I’m sorry, Jessica. I’m so sorry. I wanted to be there. I forgot. Was I the only mom who wasn’t there today?

Her: Yes. I was all alone.

Aaron came home about then and the first thing she did was retell the tale and the first thing I did was fall completely apart over Hamburger Helper and a glass of red wine.

Turns out I wasn’t the only Mom who wasn’t there today. There were other kids without a parent helping them carve their pumpkins. So she says.

Aaron was surprised by my reaction – that I would feel so terrible and cry so much about this. But he works all the time. He’s used to missing these things. He feels awful, yes, but it is his life. This is my job. Being there, is my job.

There were countless times as a child when one or both of my parents couldn’t be there, weren’t there, forgot or just didn’t show up. Didn’t stand up for me, didn’t defend me and I spent hours crying over this, journaling about it and trying to rebel against my insane need for them to pay attention to me. To see me. To stop with all their other things. The things that seemed so much more important to them, more important than me. Other siblings, work, cleaning, houses, jobs, spouses.

I had no idea it was so important for me to be there for my own kids until I wasn’t.

It was a Pumpkin Carnival. There will be more, it wasn’t her school play where she was the lead role. I didn’t miss her 13th birthday or forget to pick her up from school.

But she’s five and I had nothing going on today. I could have been there. I should have been there.

I bet this will be one of those stories we tell over and over again at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Hopefully not this year though, I’ll still cry. It’ll become part of the fabric of our family. Things we all remember a little bit differently.

Bla bla bla. It’s fine. It’ll be fine. I know it was an over reaction but it really wasn’t. A couple years ago … about the time I was seeing Jill Tanis I was digging through A LOT of junk. I remember one night I was just having a hard time shaking these feelings so I took a hot shower and it hit me:

I will stand up for my child. For my daughter … because no one stood up for me.

That Aha! moment was met with more crying and this feeling that I was finally allowing myself to change my family history. That I was finally letting go and deciding to be different in a better kind of way for my own kids.

So forgetting? Not being there?

Not an option. Not today.

Books

I’m waiting for these books in my Paper Back Swap que to become available. (No affiliate links, promise)

Barefoot Contessa – A friend has this cook book and I used to stand around in her kitchen just staring at it. I hope it still has that affect on me if it does come available.

Comfortable with Uncertainty – This was a book recommended to me by Jill Tanis a while back, I think it’s one of those books that stares at YOU and when you’re ready … you will look it in the eye. I’m not anticipating this book as much as I am dreading it … but either way, I’d love to have it on my shelf.

Diabetes: Fight it with the blood type diet – I’ve been doing all kinds of reading about this online and have it on my list to reserve this from our library. This’ll be one of those books I go back to again and again, make notes, dog ear pages … so I can’t wait for this one.

The Guernsey Literary Potato Society came highly recommended from a friend who loves books and eats them for breakfast, she has impeccable taste. And reads hella-fast and those really daunting 6 inch books. I’m inspired.

Gut and Phycology syndrome this one, again, came highly recommended by a different friend. I’m interested in reading this for a number of reasons, not sure I need to own it though – I’ll see what the library has to offer me first. Still, Food and Behavior tickles my fancy.

Healing with whole foods Mmmmm. Doesn’t that just sound delicious? Another recommendation. People, if you like to read, ask your friends for their latest great finds. It’s like a crazy escape to knowledge.

House Rules Jodi Picoult’s latest book. I love her books, have read them all. I plan to keep that tradition alive and well. Can’t wait to dig in to this one. I generally devour her books within a week of reading before bed.

In Defense of Food – this one made the news a couple times … which maybe they all did or do, but I don’t often notice books because I don’t often watch news or read it. We’ll talk about that later. Reading the back panel of this book, though, got my attention. I’m excited to read it and come to my own conclusion.

Is this your child? Another recommendation from a friend … differences between food ALLERGIES and food SENSITIVITIES. And what that all means.

Juicy Pens, Thirsy Paper by SARK. I am in a SARK phase right now, cannot get enough. And infact I have enough to keep my busy for about 2 years by her.

Junk Beautiful – I saw this one in Menards tonight on my mommy/daughter date picking out paint colors for the room-redo later this weekend. I wanted to buy it so bad but thought I should check Paper Back Swap first. A no go, but I’ll still wait to see if it comes available. Drool worthy, folks. So so drool worthy.

The Last Song – Hummmana, Hummana. I love Nicholas Sparks. Also, like Jodi Picoult, I’ve read every single one of his titles published and I’m an avid stalker on his “About Me” section on his website. Yes. Yes I am.

The Makers Diet – another recommendation.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, don’t I? All this reading. All this fabulous reading.

Any others I should add to my list? Who’s your favorite author? Or the best book you’ve read lately?

Life List: Eighty Nine

Get in the habit of doing grand gestures for my kids.

When I wrote this list I couldn’t get this idea out of my mind. How I wanted to be a mom who put my kids first like that. I want pretty things, but my kids want them too. I’ve been bogged down about how I don’t have time or energy to create such splendor, even if it’s to celebrate the silliest of things (A day of Jammies! A Bath for Breakfast! Ice Cream Parlor Wanna Be!) and really? Who am I kidding!!!

I have everything I need.

Morning walk, March 2010

I have her.

Up North

I have him.

Morning walk, March 2010

I have them.

And I wasn’t willing to wait another day playing the “reason” game on why I could hold off, yet again, on making beautiful things happen in our lives. I decided to start with breakfast.

Here are all my reasons for why I thought I couldn’t do it, when I tell my daughter every single day that couldn’t and can’t aren’t words we believe in … I was lying out loud.

# Money.
# Needing to be gluten free/healthy.
# Time.
# Not being good enough.
# Not being perfect.
# Worrying that they wouldn’t like it.
# Worrying that I didn’t have what it takes, creatively or literally (items used) to pull it off.

Here’s the truth: I own a glue gun and we have internet streaming in our house 24/7. I have everything I need to pull this off. I don’t have to spend any money. Gluten free can be pretty, too. I make the time I feel is important. I’ve never been NOT good enough, I’m their mother. I’ll never be perfect. I’m allowed to take chances. It was damn time.

Grand Gestures for my kids: Life List

Grand Gestures for my kids: Life List

Grand Gestures for my kids: Life List

I even woke up early, which is something else on my life list, to see her face when she walked out of her room. My son woke up first and the first thing he said was “Woah.” … My daughter said “You surprised me!” and my heart said “YES, YES I DID!, I LOVE YOU!”

Breakfast is a historically difficult meal for me but it’s my very favorite to make and serve. The morning my mom announced my parent’s divorce to my siblings and I was the morning she stopped making breakfast. My mom is Martha Stewart, folks. She made every single meal, every single snack from scratch. Then one morning … it all changed.

Here’s a secret: I think this is when my journey with food begins. I’ve never acknowledged that publicly before. But all of a sudden there was a void in my normal routine. Something substantial – my breakfast, the beginning was all of a sudden the end. Since that morning I’ve struggled with how to feed myself in the morning, and I generally choose to feed myself sugar, which is love to me, really. It’s no wonder I wound up with a broken pancreas. I broke it with a broken nine-year old heart and a shattered life view.

Seeing Jill Tanis has put a lot of healing into this very subject and now I eat eggs, savory tastes, every morning. I don’t always like it, I even fight it some mornings, but I’m doing more than feeding my body … I’m reminding myself – at every beginning – that I can trust that sweetness is still there, that it’s around the corner, down the hall and in my pocket … all I have to do is see it. I no longer have to eat it.

So, Breakfast. It’s kind of a big deal to me. And I wanted to start where I left off, I guess, in showing my kids how very much I love them. That I can break barriers and tear walls down to build them up. That I can do hard things. Because I can.

How To: Stir Fry Swiss Chard

Are you looking for a recipe to use swiss chard? I’m not in love with swiss chard yet but I’m trying it.

I’ve been on quite the journey to be a more healthy person, inside and out, over the past 4 years. Lots and lots of credit goes to Jill Tanis and her understanding of food and our relationship to it.

One of the biggest take-aways I had was to eat MORE MORE MORE dark, leafy greens. So I did. I love kale and beet greens – we’ve tried endive, we eat tons of spinach, broccoli rabe (or rapini) and romaine, I’ve taken a gander with dandelion greens and I even juiced rainbow chard a few weeks ago. But eating swiss chard? No, no thank you. Have not had the bug in my pants to try this one until recently.

swiss chard

Here it is. You’ll need: EVOO, salt, pepper, swiss chard, and garlic.

Start by pouring some EVOO into a pan on the stove.
swiss chard

While your oil is heating up, chop up some garlic … and this I love to do. You get to get a little rough with the garlic. Knock it around a bit. Get a little frisky. Get angry, even.

Start with your cloves and a knife that would scare your grandmother.
swiss chard

Take one clove and set your large knife on top of it, like so…
swiss chard

Then SMASH it.
swiss chard

Success. You should be able to peel the skin off the garlic now and set it aside to chop after you’ve smacked around the other cloves of garlic.

When you’ve smashed and skinned all your cloves, chop them up. Be fearless.
swiss chard

Then toss them in the oil.
swiss chard

Add some salt (I forgot about the pepper)
swiss chard

(Missing photos)
Chop your swiss chard, I only used 5 or 6 leaves for this saute. They’re big leaves and being the first time trying it, I wanted to take it easy.

One you’ve removed the vein (stem) from the swiss chard (it’s bitter) chop up the swiss chard and toss it in with the garlic, salt and oil.
swiss chard

It doesn’t take long for it saute down.
swiss chard

Add to your dinner and try it … maybe you’ll enjoy it. Who knows!
swiss chard

We did not. It was a little too bitter for my liking and my very adventurous children spit it out. Can’t blame them. So I tried it again – only the next time I tried it … I added it to soup (substituted the spinach in the recipe for swiss chard and kale). Much better flavoring for me. I’ll keep taking swiss chard out on dates until I find the perfect fit. Why? Because it’s beneficial and worth the leg work to make it a part of our diets.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

This is a marriage you never expected

And it’s one for the books.
Beets and Oranges? Wait, what are beets? On a salad?! Aren’t those the purple things in a can that you buy around Thanksgiving … or is is Christmas? There’s lettuce in there right? Oh good. Now I’m listening.
So glad I got your attention … because this salad is a surprisingly wonderful lunch or snack.

20090513-DSC_8400.jpg

Beet Orange Salad
Mixed greens or arugula
6 beets, roasted and diced
1 whole orange, cut into segments and diced
To roast beets: put in oven at 450 degrees for approx 45 – 60 minutes or until you can easily pierce the beet with a knife. Let cool and removed skins. Discard skin and dice beets. (This step can be done days in advance and stored in fridge.)
Add greens, beets and orange segments into a salad bowl.
Dressing:
Tablespoons Olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or 1 tablespoon umeboshi plum vinegar)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
Juice of ½ lemon
Juice of cut up orange (after segments are removed)
Sea salt and pepper to taste (no salt needed when using plum vinegar)
Whisk and pour over salad mixture.
From Jill Tanis
Notes: I only had 3 beets so I roasted them and used ONE per salad. So I could make a total of 3 salads – planning for a week. How do you roast or make beets? Just like squash. Fill a pan with some water – cut the greens/stems off the beets – rinse them, put them in the pan with the water (about an inch is good) and in the oven at 350 until you can pierce the skin with a fork. The cool and peal – stick the beets in the fridge for later use, or use right away. You can play with the heat of your oven to get them done faster.