Graduation

Another non-food post.  But at least I will reference food in this one!

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Six years ago, my husband was in a not-great place.  He had spent almost ten years working in the construction field as an administrator.  It was not a good fit for him in many ways and it was taking its toll.  He was perpetually exhausted, always angry, never in a good mood and almost never home.  It was impacting our relationship, our future plans and his physical and mental health.  So he took a big step:  he quit.

He drifted for a bit, not sure what he wanted to do, not sure if he’d made the right decision.  He wrestled with self-doubt, anxiety, fear and the feelings of dread when he thought about his future.  He felt he had let me, his family and himself down.  He felt like a failure.

Four years ago he went back to college, for a second degree.  He chose Veterinary Technology, which is essentially a nursing degree but with animals instead of people. He worked his ass off for four years.  He wrestled with self-doubt, anxiety, fear and feelings of dread when he thought about his future.  He often felt as though he was going to fail and let himself, his family and me down.  He felt the pressure and stress of deadlines, struggles to understand concepts and fear that he would not finish. It took its toll on our relationship, our family, our future plans and his physical and mental health.

Today, he graduates.  With a grade point average of 4.0.  At the honors convocation last night, he won an academic excellence award from his program, received his gold honors cords because he is graduation summa cum laude and he learned that he is co-valedictorian of the entire graduating class of the college.  He is sharing valedictorian with his best friend at school, who also earned a 4.0.

Today, he is filled with feelings of accomplishment, joy, relief and pride.  I share these with him and I am excited for our future plans.  There will be stress, there will be fear and there will be dread.  I am ok with this because I am hoping that now he knows, to the core of his soul, that he is not a failure, that he has not let anyone down and that he is capable of anything.

photoAfter the ceremony, I’ll pick up the kids (who are far too little to both miss their nap time at daycare and attend what will be a long, grown up, full of talking and quiet sitting ceremony) and we’ll have dinner at my husband’s favorite steak house, Flemmings.  We’ll celebrate this ending and the new beginning before us.

We’ll be proud.

 

Sorrow

No food today. My heart is heavy and I am still crying over the horrible events of yesterday in my beloved city, during a beloved sporting event.  So far, everyone I know and love is ok.  My mother was there, across the street.  The explosion happened where she has stood, faithfully, year after year.  This year she changed spots.  I think I believe a little bit more in miracles now.  Her partner, who works for the BAA at the finish line, is also unscathed.  Once again, miracles happen.  Not all were as lucky as we were and for them, I am still crying.

In times like these, I want to focus on the amazing, overwhelming outpouring of compassion, strength and support. Here is a quick list of a few of these.  They make me proud to be a Bostonian as well as a human.

More food later this week.  For now, I want to focus on my family and breathe in our love.

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Three

Once again, not a food post.  Indulge me, won’t you?

My sweet, dear, smart, strong, smart, special daughter,

You are three.  As crude as it sounds, WTF?!  Wasn’t I just holding you for the first time, smiling down at your face through my tears of joy?  I mean, really, what is this three nonsense?

photo 5 This last year has been so wonderful.  I’ve been able to watch your language develop, your motor skills grow and your personality really come to life.  I am in awe at the delight, joy and pure glee that you find in everything.  From eating breakfast at the bakery….

photo 3to eating the pizzas we made….

photo 1to playing at the “big” playground…

photo 2You are so smart and so outgoing that I can only hope to someday match your spirit.  You adore your brother and he is the first one you want to see each morning.

photo 3It is funny to me that I couldn’t get you into that crib for more than a minute when it was yours but now that it’s his and he’s in it, you’ll take every chance you can to climb in to be with him.

photo 4I love how your little mind works.  You’re always coming out with little facts or thoughts that show me how much you’re constantly processing.  You remember things you heard, read or did months ago and will come out with them at random times.  I adore the look on your face when you’re concentrating and learning or trying something new.  Like decorating the Christmas tree….

photo 2or lighting the Chanukah candles.

photo 4You still love to “make recipe” with me.

photo 1Lately you’ve been making statements that simply melt me.  A few days ago, as we walked to the car, holding hands, you said, “Mama, I love you.  You’re my best friend.”  I wanted to cry out of sheer joy.  I know in a few years you won’t think that anymore but I am hoping that, like me and my mother, and my mother and her mother, when you’re older you’ll come back around to that line of thinking.

photo 2My sweet baby girl, I have no good words to describe how much you’ve changed my life for the better, how much more me I feel by being your mother, how much you fill me with love, joy, laughter and the sense of rightness.  My life is so much better because you are in it.  I adore you and that doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about you.

photo 5But I have to tell you, you’re growing so fast.  It’s good and correct and what I want for you and at the same time, I want to slow it down, keep you smaller for longer.  Because when you put on jeans?  You look about 15 years old to me.

photo 5My strong, smart, gorgeous, sweet, beautiful girl.  I love you so much.

Happy third birthday!!!

Love,

Mama

One

This is not a food post.  You have been warned.

Dear Not-So-Baby M.,

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A year!  I can’t believe it, you’ve been with us for a year.  A year ago today, I braided my hair, took my final pregnancy, mother-of-one photo and set off for the adventure of giving birth to you.

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A year that has gone by so much faster than any other.  I feel like I blinked and now you’re a year old.  Oh, but what a year!

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In this year you have learned how to smile, laugh, giggle, sit up, crawl, stand, cruise around the edges of a room, almost talk and definitely make yourself understood.

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You have learned how much your daddy and I love you and even how much more your sister adores you.

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You adore her as well- you just light up when she’s around and talking to you.  She often speaks for you, saying, “M. wants his bottle.”  This may be why you’re only almost talking!

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The two of you are like two peas in a pod- people have asked me if you’re twins.  I want to savor all of this love between you now because I’m sure it will be harder to recall it in  just a few years.  Meanwhile, the two of you get into such fun mischief together.

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Beyond all of the usual lovely baby things, there is something so very special about you.  You are a great sleeper- I rock you for a few minutes at night and then you sleep in your crib for several hours at a time.  I love that you wake up and come to bed with us because you roll over and snuggle right in with me, as if saying, “Yup, alone is ok but with Mumma is much better.”- but that’s not it.  You’re a fantastic eater (you love avocado most of all) but that’s not it either.

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You have what I can only describe as a kind, joyful soul.  You giggle at everything, you smile at everyone and you enjoy almost everything you do. This has been true since birth.

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When you look around, it’s clear that you are taking it all in and figuring it all out.  You’re so interested in the world around you and you make people smile.  In fact, no one can resist your smile- I’ve seen you use it on grumpy strangers when we’re out and they can’t help but smile back.

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And, oh, you cuddle.  You’re a champion snuggler.  Your affection knows no bounds which is lovely- most of the time.  When you start yanking on my hair (another favorite activity), it can be a bit painful but the grin on your face as you do it is almost worth it.

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Oh, my darling, sweet boy.  I had so many fears and trepidations about you joining our family and all of them, every single one, has been proven wrong.  My fears were about me, not you and now that you’re here, I can see that my life would be wrong without you.  I was made to be your mumma.

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I love you my amazing boy.  Happy birthday!!

Love,

Mummy

No Words

My heart is heavy tonight. I can’t speak to you about food or cooking just yet.

So often in my work I am reminded how fine a line there is between me and those I support.  How easily that line can be crossed due to unpredictable, uncontrollable events.

My heart is breaking for all the families in Connecticut tonight- those who lost children, siblings, partners, and other loved ones, those who can’t understand how someone they loved could have done such an unspeakable thing, those who will continue to be impacted by this long after the media spotlight has moved on to the next story.  I am crying for a school, a town, a community that will never be the same.

I will hug my children, parents and husband a bit more over the next few days because I am lucky enough not to be on the wrong side of that fine line.  I will be thankful and grateful for that.

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9 months and a little bit more

Once again, not a food post.  A sappy, I love my children more than I can say post.  If you’re hungry, please feel free to browse the recipe index.  If it’s cold, I highly recommend the quick chicken stew or the Cachupa rica. 

My Dear, Sweet, Amazing, Darling Boy,

You are now over 9 months old and I feel like I’ve barely blinked.  You’ve now been outside in the world longer than you were hanging out inside me.  It’s so hard for me to believe but, that’s the truth.

I was a little worried before you arrived and I shouldn’t have been.  You are delightful.  I can count on one hand the number of true “challenging”moments I’ve had with you.  You are almost always smiling, laughing or full body wiggling in happiness.  I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such a wonderful baby but I’ll take it.  For the record, you and your sister are so similar, both in looks and in temperament, that I will consider myself blessed and lucky for the rest of your lives.

You are starting to do things for yourself.  You can pull yourself up on whatever is nearby and you’ve started to creep along from tall thing to tall thing.

You’re eating solid food and, oh boy, can you eat.  I have yet to find something that you won’t eat and you are willing to try everything.  Plus, you’re eager to feed yourself.

You’ve started “talking” as well- you have a particular noise you use whenever you see the cat (and it’s just like the one your sister used when she was your age) and you’re working on “ma-ma” and “da-da.”  Most of the noise you make is joyful- loud shouts and squeals of delight- when you see me, your daddy or any of your numerous grandparents.

Every single day, I discover something new about you.  Today you learned how to climb up the first step (uh-oh!), last week you learned to move from the army crawl to the full on fast full body crawl, the week before you started waving.  The speed at which you are growing is awe inspiring.  And you remain my cuddly, snuggly, warm little boy.  Your prefered place of sleep is Mama’s lap but you’ll also settle for anyone else.  Or your crib.  Or Mama’s bed.  You aren’t that picky when it comes to sleep which is a blessing.  Again, I’m not sure how I got so lucky.  I’m reveling in these snuggles now because I know, all too soon, you’ll be on the go and won’t have time to cuddle.

I remember writing to your sister like this and saying that I know that I was born to be her Mama and she was supposed to be my little girl.  I feel the same way about you.  I was born to be your mama without a doubt.  You are supposed to be my little boy- we were meant for each other.  I can’t imagine my life without you.  I’m so lucky to be your mama.

I love you little boy.

xoxoxox

Six Months (And A Little More)

Once again, a sappy letter is below.  It’s to my six month plus son.  No food in this post, unless you count the food he’s just started eating (rice cereal!  mashed banana!  squash and sweet potato!  Yum!).  Thanks for humoring me.

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Dear Baby M.,

Would you mind explaining to me how you’ve managed to go from this:

Or even this:

to this:

in just six months?  You see the difference?  The first two photos are of a baby.  The last one is of a little boy.  Seriously, dude, slow down.

All kidding aside, I do feel like your babyhood is going by much more quickly than your sister’s did.  My heart aches each day when I look at you and see how much bigger you’ve gotten seemingly overnight.  My heart sings each day as I watch you interact with your world- learning, exploring, trying new things (you’ve recently realized that you can roll to get around.  I suspect you’ll be doing some kind of modified crawl pretty soon. Seriously, slow down!).  If your sister could make you crawl, she would.  She’d really like you to be able to play with her a bit more (though, I suspect once you can take her toys, she’ll want you to play just a little less).

Oh just wait, Mama, they seem to say. Just wait until we’re slightly more mobile. You’re in for it then!

You are, if it is possible, even more laid-back, easygoing and happy than your sister was at your age.  You are constantly smiling- grinning is more like it- and laughing at everyone and everything.  You cry when you have a reason- hungry, tired, wet, poopy- but once we fix the reason you’re mellow as can be.  You light up and do a full-body wiggle when you see the people you love- mummy, daddy, OGWO but most especially your sister, G.  She makes you the absolute happiest.

You’re also a champion sleeper- at least as far as sleeping goes in this family.  You can fall asleep without nursing and you’ll sleep for several hours at night in your own crib, in your own room.  Your father and I remain amazed at this and will sometimes sneak in, just to watch!

Little boy of mine, I never knew I could love another child the way that I love your sister.  Oh, but I do.  You are so different and so wonderful at the same time.  I had all kinds of misgivings about having a second child, having a boy and none of them had to do with you.  They had to do with me and my own limitations and shortcomings but now that you’re here?  I can’t imagine my life without you.  Your smile, your laugh and your grippy, pinchy hugs that hurt but hurt with so much love.   I adore your sweet potato face- the one you make when you eat them- and your snuffling sound that goes with it.

I adore your smell, your hands, your face, your laugh, your sharp little nails (no matter how often I cut them!), your soft hair….

My darling boy, I simply adore every little thing about you.  I was a fool to worry that I wouldn’t have enough of me to go around- my heart has expanded and continues to expand to hold both you and your sister tightly within it.

I am so blessed to be your mama.  Thank you for being you.  I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings.  I love you to pieces.

love,

Mummy

Four Months (and a little)

Once again, not a food post.  Indulge me, won’t you?

Dear Baby M.,

What can I say?  It’s been four months since your slightly dramatic arrival and I feel like you’ve been with us forever, while at the same time, I feel like you were just born.

When I was pregnant with your sister, I was worried about the unknown.  When I was pregnant with you, I was worried about what was known. What would it be like to have a boy?  What would it be like to have a family of four?  How could another child possibly be as wonderful as my first?   I needn’t have worried- you are just as perfect as I could possibly want.

Since you’ve joined us, you’ve been mellow, calm and snuggly.  I feel like you’ve started to smile and “talk” a lot sooner than your sister did and I know that you are just as happy, if not happier.  You are almost always smiling-grinning, really- and these days you’re chatting with anyone who will look at you. Your smiles started in your sleep, when you were just a month and a few days old.

You’re holding up your head and you prefer to stand if possible.  Or to sit in your bumbo even though you’re just barely old enough for it.   You sleep well, you eat well and you are just so very interested in what’s happening around you.

 

Your sister adores you and you her.  I’m sure this will not last but for now, she’s the one that can make you smile if you’re crying, perk up and talk if you’ve been quiet and she’s just the one who generally holds your attention.  She loves to “help” feed you, burp you and hold you.  She often says, “G, hold ‘dat” when she wants to hug you.

Sometimes she’ll lie down next to you and direct me to “take a picture.”

And how do I feel about you?  I’m a little bit stunned, to tell you the truth, at how much I love you.  I sort of thought it wouldn’t be as special, the second time around.  I was so, so wrong.  I love and adore my sweet little boy in a way that is completely the same and completely different from how I love and adore my sweet girl.  I don’t have as much time to sit and snuggle with you (and you are just a big snuggle bug) so when I do, it’s that much more precious.

Thank you for joining our family, my darling boy.  You’ve already taught me how much more love my heart can hold- it seems perhaps an infinite amount- and how much fun it is to be a mother of “two under three”.  I can’t wait for you to be even more interactive.  I’m looking forward to getting to you know even more.  (But don’t rush- I feel like you’ve already grown so much!)  I love you, sweet, darling, amazing little boy, so much more than I thought I could.  Thank you.

Love,

Mummy

Two Years

It’s that time again- time for a letter to my daughter in honor of her second birthday.  Please indulge this non-food post. 

My dear, sweet, darling, strong, gorgeous girl,

You are two.  How did this happen?  I feel like it was just a few hours ago that I was looking at you for the first time.  Now you’re running around, talking up a storm and making your way in your world.  It’s happened so quickly.

Now that you’re two, you are talking, talking, talking all the time.  You have so much to say.  Sometimes you’re observing the world around you, “birds!  clouds!”  Sometimes you’re working things out, “Daddy…work.  Mummy…work.”  Other times, you’re telling me about your day (even if it takes me a few minutes to get it), “knee…fell down.  crying.  Mummy kiss.”  Still other times, you’re asking for what you want, “Straw, please.”  We’ve been careful to teach you manners so we also get a lot of, “please, please, please”  (and sometimes the sign too, which is the only one you still use) and some cute, “Thank you”s.  My absolute favorite (aside from when you say “mummy/mommy/mumma” is when you say, “Okay.”  Which is what you say to just about everything.  The tone of it changes with your mood- it can be a tearful, pulling-yourself-together “okay” or it can be a cheerful, let’s-do-this “okay.”  I love it.

It has been amazing to watch you grow and become your own person.  You have an incredibly upbeat, cheerful spirit and disposition.  You cry, don’t get me wrong- and sometimes you scream- but it’s generally short-lived.  You’re willing to observe for a few minutes and then jump right into whatever is happening.  You’re active and love to play outside (and in) and I’ve often seen you singing to yourself as you do.  You love to read and have mastered a few of your books including “Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime” which you “read”to me every night.  You’ve also just started coloring and drawing which makes me feel like you are just so old.

Your capacity for others is huge.  You love all your friends at daycare and you talk about them when you’re home.  When you see photographs of them, you name them.  This is also true for those children that you don’t see as often, including your cousins N, A and M as well as your friends A and M.  A few weeks ago, when you heard the front door opening, you got really excited and yelled out, “N!” who you haven’t seen in at least a month.  I guess you had been thinking about him.  You love talking on the computer with Grandpa and others and will often request it, “C’mon, Mummy.  Grapa.”

Over the last few months you’ve gotten to be a much better, much more independent sleeper.  You still prefer to sleep with us but are able to sleep alone and help yourself back to sleep too.  You’ve graduated to a “big girl bed”, up off the floor and everything.  You’re sleeping well at daycare and you greet us every morning pretty happy.  I miss your secret sleep smiles and I can get frustrated when I’m overwhelmed and you want me to stay with you until you’re asleep but I’m glad to see you growing.  I know as you get older, you’ll want to ‘nuggle (snuggle) less and less often and this breaks my heart.

We brought your brother home about six weeks ago and I think I was more upset than you were.  I was so worried you’d feel displaced but you’ve handled it with such- no pun intended- grace.  You like to bring him blankets and to alert me when milk is coming out of his nose. There are times when you’d prefer him to be elsewhere: “Daddy, baby, swing.”  but overall, you seem to like him.  It’s hard for you when you want to be held and I’m holding him but you’ve done a pretty decent job of learning to wait until I can put him down and pick you up for a cuddle.

And what can I say about my feelings for you?  Every single day I am amazed at how much more I love you.  I assumed it would sort of, I don’t know, plateau at some point.  But it hasn’t.  Every single day, my heart expands to capacity and each night I think, “This.  This is how much love I can hold.”  Every single morning, I wake up to just a little bit more.  Being your mother has made me the person I have always wanted to be.  Being with you teaches me joy and patience in the same moment.

Because, to be truthful, you are stubborn, persistent and strong-willed.  These are traits I hope you keep with you for your entire life.  You will not be told what to do and it’s difficult to force you.  On the other hand, you know what you want, how to ask for it and how to keep at it until you get it.  When you are told a firm no, you fuss but then you move on- it’s pretty clear to you when you can “work it” and when it’s a done deal.  I find it awesome that you’ve learned that at just two years old.  There are times when you try my patience and I have to leave the room but these are balanced by the times you catch me off guard and make me burst into laughter.

Oh, my darling girl.  I adore you.  Happy second birthday!  Thank you for making these two years the best of my life.  I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Love always,

Mummy