Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Two Desserts and a Play

Cookie Close-Up

Pick on Me!

Mini Gluten-free, Vegan (Birthday!) Cupcakes

It was a whirlwind of a month, and a wild "Westmas Eve." In honor of tomorrow, I made about four pounds of vegan buttercream frosting: chocolate, vanilla, and lemon. And if you're saying to yourself, "Yummy, but not together," tell that to the birthday boy.

* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.


One of my parents' many Christmas decorations is a wooden candle holder shaped like a little girl dressed for Saint Lucia Day. I always wanted so badly to light the candles, but we never did.

My mother (who is not Swedish, but married a Swede) made a big deal out of being Swedish in December. We talked about Santa Lucia, and how the day was observed in homes in Sweden. The idea of actually getting to wear a real wreath with candles in it seemed very romantic. I imagined that if I were growing up in Sweden instead of in America, as the oldest (only) daughter, I would get to bring coffee and saffron Lucia buns to everyone in the house while wearing a white robe and that fabulous candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song.
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
Venite all’agile barchetta mia,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
(Okay, that's Italian. But you get the idea.)

Growing up, I took a lot of pride in being Swedish. I suppose I still do, in that I'm continuing the tradition of tomte presents for children.

The tomtes (we say "tumtas") are gnome-like characters who resemble the American Santa Claus, and bring a small present to each child every day from December 1 through December 24. They're like a mobile, magical Advent calender, marking the days until Christmas and making the wait a little easier. Like Santa Claus, they have a flying sleigh—albeit a very tiny one, as tomtes are thumb-sized. And they live in Sweden, not at the North Pole.

For years, I thought this was traditional Swedish folklore, and a common occurrence in Swedish households. I found out just recently that while tomtes are Swedish, the 24 gifts they bring was my mother's idea.

[All images from Wikipedia. I love you, Wikipedia.]

* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Child Off-Centered

Lazy Sunday Couch-<span class=

I'd love to know Rob's secret—how he and Westley always seem to have fun together, even on the most difficult days with the most whining and complaining and disagreeing. It can't just be a shared love of magical robots. Even at his most run-down, Rob usually has ideas for fun activities. Meanwhile, I'm standing around, well-rested and shrugging my shoulders, going, "I don't know what to do."

Westley is nearly four, and I often still feel like that mother of a new baby, looking at this little stranger, feeling overwhelmed, not knowing what to do or where to start. On days when I have a simple errand or project, it's a little easier to get started, to keep the day moving, to keep the feeling of being overwhelmed—or trapped—away. Still, my activities are all about running the house: homemaking stuff, not kid stuff.

I worry, because (unlike Rob) I don't have child-friendly interests. I want to build a fun, safe, enriching environment for my child, but I struggle to be child-centered. I'm not sure I know how to do it.

Table Play

* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.
Day 28: A skill I'd like to learn.


Trying Times

Snow Night

Every few weeks, Westley asks me for a little sister.

"Mommy, I would like a little sister." (He's starting to enunciate his Ls more often. It's heartrending. Just a few months ago, Westley would have "whiked" a "whittul" sister.)

"That would be great."

"Can we do that? Can we do that today?"

Snow Night

Then I clench my emotional muscles and explain that, well, it would be very nice if we could have a baby right away, but it takes a long time to grow a baby, and whether we have another one is a big decision. We don't have a lot of control over it. Whether there's another baby is bigger than Mommy and Daddy.

"But we can try," I tell him. "And we can all be very hopeful."

Except that I'm not feeling very hopeful. I've been hopeful in the past, but keeping it up requires lots of effort. My disobedient body parts (and other people's losses) keep interfering with the hoping.

Last year, hoping was a little easier. The weather was cold, but very beautiful; the world felt festive. It started snowing a few days before Thanksgiving. As soon as the lawn was covered, Rob, Westley, and I bundled up and went outside.

Snow Night
Snow Night

I remember Westley saying he was a rat who was going to put snow on me. I remember how cold my hands got once the snow I was packing together to make snowballs seeped into my knit gloves. I remember that was pretty sure I was pregnant.

Snow Night
Snow Night

I had been thinking about babies and feeling very hopeful and my period was late. I don't remember whether I'd taken a pregnancy test already. If I had, it had come back negative. In any case, I was excited, having decided that on Friday, I would officially be late enough to see those parallel pink lines.

On Thanksgiving morning, I started bleeding. It was heavier than my normal (heavy) period bleeding, and I was in more pain than usual. I tried not to think about what that might mean, but I cried for what felt like an hour before getting up and weakly starting to put together a vegan feast.

Snow Night

A year ago, deciding to have another baby was, if not exactly an easy decision to make, a much simpler idea. This time last year, I was ready. Now, I'm not sure I'll ever be ready again.

Today, Westley expressed his desire for a sibling once again.

"I want a little sister," he said. And then: "Can you and Daddy try?"

"We'll see," I said.

We'll see.

* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.
Day 27: Myself, one year ago.


Monday, November 28, 2011

I Am So Tired of Being Cold

And winter hasn't even started yet.

Hello, Spring

* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.
Day 26: Something I'm looking forward to.


It's In the Bag

I first saw Clava's Carina zipper tote when Whoorl's Sarah showed it off as a diaper bag. (Brilliant idea!) I don't often fall in love with stuff—but I truly could not stop thinking about this bag. Especially since I was using a diaper bag as my everyday bag.

After six months of longing, I bought myself a present.


I love the army green and the way it looks good with everything (I was also tempted by the indigo). I love that the coated canvas is completely splash-proof. And I double-love the cross-body strap. Somewhere between motherhood and chronic back pain, I decided that any bag I purchase that is bigger than a breadbox must have a cross-body strap. It makes a world of difference.

This was the 30 Days post I was most excited to write. (Really!) Because while I don't tend to fall for stuff, I do love noticing objects, and what our objects say about us. I think the contents of my bag are probably a better self-portrait than anything I could take by pointing the camera at my face.

Bag Contents
I'm surprised there wasn't more crap in there. I don't remember the last time I cleaned out my bag.

1. Keys to my car.
2. Found dime.
3. Five toothpicks.
4. Bamboo comb.
5. Small box of raisins.
6. Watch.
7. Rescue Remedy chewing gum.
9. Keys to Rob's car.
10. Boys' jeans (4T) and underwear (XS).
11. Moon Pad Bag with two mini Lunapads inside.
12. Two hair ties, up-do pin, three bobby pins.
13. Lipstick, lip balm, and two tinted lip balms.
15. Journal.
16. Double Indemnity theater ticket stub.
17. Three pens.
18. Double Indemnity program, and a card from The Boy Who Cried Wolf. (What can I say? We loves us some theater!)
19. Sunglasses.
20. Two AA batteries.
21. Found paper clip.
22. Ides of March movie ticket stub.
23. Receipt for Thanksgiving groceries.
24. Card case.
25. Wallet with prayer card.
* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.
Day 25: The contents of my purse.


Post-Kid Kitchen: Feeding My Whole Family

(Some of) The Food

I'm not a great food photographer. I'm not much of a food blogger. But I am a damn good cook.

My mother says I come from a long line of excellent cooks (which I'm sure is true). Whether that helped me on my way, though, I don't know. I like to think of this particular accomplishment as a matter of, If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

P.S. It really helps if you can read a cookbook.

Rainbow Kale Salad

When Rob and I were first together, I decided that one of the things that mattered to me most in my relationship was being an accomplished cook. It sounds superficial and a little unliberated—"I'm going to be a good cook for my man!"—but feeding the people in my life delicious, made-from-scratch meals means the world to me.

It makes me very happy and proud to know that Rob comes home to a hot, home cooked meal almost every night. And since about four years ago, when I was hugely pregnant and my mother and I collaborated on Thanksgiving dinner, I've discovered feeding a larger group, my extended family, brings me just as much joy. If not more.


Last night Rob asked me what my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner was. I said, "Planning it," and launched into a speech about how much fun it was to imagine all food: Butternut Squash Lasagna from Yellow Rose Recipes with gluten-free noodles and delicata squash as a substitution; gluten-free mushroom dressing made from homemade bread; two Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pies, one with gingersnap crust and one without, and a rum sauce to drizzle over the top. Of course, the best part of planning is having the plan work out and showing up at my mother-in-law's house with two (or more) giant casserole dishes overflowing with food.

Westley's birthday is coming up (on Thursday!). We're not having a party, but I kind of wish we were. There will probably be at least two desserts. Cupcakes and ice cream cake for a family of three seems a little excessive; cupcakes and ice cream cake for a roomful of family members feels like a real celebration!

The <span class=


* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.
Day 24: Something that means a lot to me.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

At a Loss

Amidst pre-Thanksgiving craziness, as I was double-checking ingredients and doing oven-math, I learned that a pregnant friend and her partner had lost their baby. She was 26 weeks along.

My body merged with my chair. I couldn't move. The last time I'd seen her (she's the pretty brunette in all of Westley's haircut pictures), she was visibly pregnant. We almost pointedly didn't talk about it. I'd been desperate to ask how she was doing, feeling, and all that, but whenever I think about talking about babies to someone, a cantaloupe materializes in my throat and a piano drops on my chest. In fact, the last time we talked about baby-anything, I'd been impatient for my first post-D&C period.

I re-read her news, awash in the sensation of being too sad to cry. That is wrong, was all I could think. That is bullshit. No one should have this happen to them. Ever. Especially not someone so young and healthy and lovely and in love.

I cannot stop thinking about the hugeness of a 26-week loss. (I can't think about anything else.) I felt so betrayed to have miscarried at 12 weeks, right when I was supposed to be leaving the "danger zone." To be 26 weeks pregnant and then, over a weekend...not pregnant... I would say "I can't begin to imagine," but I can begin, and then some.

The sadness makes my bones ache.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Broad Points V ½

11 ½. I can sort of blow a raspberry if I take my tongue piercing out.

29 ½. In addition to being extra-afraid of heights post-Westley, I'm also edgy around large bodies of water. I still absolutely love the ocean—but I'm also certain it could kill me. I've been afraid of drowning since I learned that drowning was a thing that could happen, but my drowning seems more possible now, somehow.

31 ½. I think my color guard coaches may have been sadists. And not just because they put us in shiny mini-dresses.


32 ½. I actually had an opportunity to sing onstage with Liz Phair and I didn't do it. I've regretted it ever since. She asked if anyone in the audience could sing the high part of "Flower," and I totally can, but my back was so flared up that night, and I was in so much pain that I wasn't sure I could physically get up on stage.

41 ½. I know it's chemical sludge, but I love Pond's Cold Cream. On the rare evenings that I take my makeup off before bed, that's what I use.

44 ½. I have a bottle of Pacifica Avalon Juniper perfume that I use every now and then. However, I mostly bought it for the pretty owl on the box, and because both Avalon and Juniper were on my list of girls' names.

46 ½. My favorite Hollywood romances take place in the screwball comedy genre, where relationships are based on deception, manipulation, and verbal sparring.


49 ½. I wonder if I have Asperger syndrome.

{Broad Points}

* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.
Day 23: Eight things you didn't know about me.


Fjord Model

There are three pictures from our honeymoon. Just three.

Rob's mother sent us on an Alaskan cruise. When we fell asleep, we were surrounded by open-and-uninteresting ocean. We woke up in Tracy Arm.

Tracy Arm
57° 54′ 41″ N, 133° 24′ 8″ W...and the view.
(Sorry. Or, you're welcome. Whichever.)

Rob made me pose with the scenery. I felt like a complete idiot, but nothing says I'm on my honeymoon like an enthusiastic, "Okay, baby, whatever you want!"

Tracy Arm
Tracy Arm

And then the batteries in the camera died. And we hadn't brought any replacements with us. And there weren't batteries for sale anywhere on the ship. Leaving us with a total of three honeymoon pictures.

It was probably for the best. A massive, swimming-pool blue, honest-to-goodness fjord is not really photographable with a wimpy little civilian point-'n'-shoot. And not having pictures means there is no evidence of the monstrous plates of hideous food we devoured right after I slipped into something a little less I'm on my honeymoon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

This is Simul-Nap

Chair Nap
Chair Nap
Boys Napping
Los Sleepo

* * *

So Fawned 30 Days Hath November

Day 17: My family.
Day 21: Something I could never tire of.


We're Pretty

I don't remember this story. (That probably means something.) My mother told it to me a while ago, and I've been thinking about it recently.

Beach Broad

One day, when I was little—preschool age, I think—I saw a photo or some video of myself. I looked for a minute, and then announced, delighted, "I'm pretty!"

"You are," my mother agreed. After that, I ran off to play. That was that.

The notion that I would see an image of myself, gleefully approve, and move on with my life feels like science fiction now. I don't often feel pretty. In fact, pretty, and the even higher-ranking beautiful, aren't words I feel I'm allowed to apply to myself. In a 2009 interview with Huffington Post, Margaret Cho sums up my semantic problem: "I always thought that people told you that you're beautiful, that this was a title that was bestowed upon you."

But—and here's the really weird part—on the rare occasion that I look in the mirror or at a photograph or at a piece of video and imagine that I'm looking at a stranger, I can get there: She's pretty.