Unexpected Sadness

Sometimes life is filled with unexpected joys.  Sometimes it’s the other way around. This weekend, after 11 years of blissful love, snuffling and puppy kisses, we had to put our older dog, Mulan to sleep.

Mulan was, in the words of our vet, “the nicest Shar-Pei in the world.”  She was a sweet girl, with a loving disposition.  Mulan greeted everyone with a snuffle and lots and lots of kisses.  She was in heaven when people would let her lick their legs, hands or arms as long as she could.  A friend once timed her and after twenty minutes made her switch legs.  Mulan loved to lick my husband’s bald head and, just before we let her go, she did just that.

Mulan greeted us every day with tail wagging.  She curled up with us every night and snored away as she slept.  She was eager to please and loved to snuggle on the sofa, her head resting on your leg (or, if you weren’t available, a pillow, book or anything handy).  It is hard to sit here now on the sofa, laptop in my lap but no Mulan on my feet. 

Mulan got along with the other animals in our home, knowing that she was the first dog (and most beloved). In time, she even managed to get along and share space with them. 

While she did not grow up to save China, I can say, without exaggeration, she saved me.  Mulan was with me through graduate school, relationships ending, family members dying, weddings, new jobs, new homes and, finally, new babies.  She was curled up with me while I cried, wagged her tail when I laughed and walked next to me when I needed support.  I love my other dog and Mulan holds a special, irreplaceable spot in my heart.

We have a Mulan-sized hole in our home, life and hearts.  We’ll miss you, sweet girl. 

Crowded With Unexpected Joys

Many years ago, when I graduated with my doctorate, my mother bought me a bench on Commonwealth Avenue, near where she lives.  The plaque next to it says, “May your life be crowded with unexpected joys.”  I love that dedication and I have a photograph of the plaque itself on my dresser.  Today, on my 35th birthday, I am reminded of this tenfold.

My life is crowded with unexpected joys:  my family and friends who have texted, called, facebooked and otherwise gotten in touch to wish me a happy birthday.

My daughter, who brings me more joy each day than any living person deserves to have in an entire lifetime.

My husband, who bought me two cakes and a cupcake as well as chocolates.

The client and her mother that I met for the first time today, to do some testing, who knew it was my birthday due to a passing comment and who brought me cupcakes.

So, no recipe today (I don’t cook on my birthday, unless I want to), just a whole lot of grateful for what I have. 

Some Days…

You know, most nights I make a good, healthy, well-balanced dinner.  Especially when I’m in the midst of trying to get the baby-who-is-now-a-toddler to experience a wide range of tastes and textures in the hope that she will not be a picky eater like her father.

Other nights, I have this:Yes, folks, that’s right.  I had a coffee milkshake for dinner.

Now, I can make all kinds of excuses and explanations and discuss the guilt vs. treat decision.  I could talk about disordered eating and bad food choices and weight management and not bingeing and the love-hate relationship I have with all food. I could remind you that the baby wasn’t eating with me as I am working late and she is home with Daddy, have a well-balanced, well-thought out meal. I might mention how poor food planning, meetings back to back to back and spoiled ranch dressing led to this. But I won’t.   Instead I will simply tell you this.

It was good.

I will also give you a sneak peek at two things about which I will be posting soon.  One is a kitchen fail-turned success:

The other, a yummy dessert that was an improvisation on a recipe from a book lent to me by my wonderful friend K, who deserves a post all her own:

Soon, I promise.  Let me get through today and tomorrow (which by the way is my adopted brother T’s birthday and he’ll be coming over for birthday dinner and believe you me, that’s a post and a half!) and then this weekend we’ll have time for a nice long chat, all cozied up with some tea and biscuits.  I promise.  Maybe.

Or perhaps I’ll just be making more milkshakes for dinner.


Oh. So. Excited.

Remember how I wrote about Ms. Lora Brody, author of Growing Up On The Chocolate Diet?  (If you don’t, click here.)  Anyway, I had emailed her years ago and she’d replied with a very nice email.  After making her Chocolate Initation Cake for my daughter’s first birthday, I emailed her again.  She replied!!!!  A really, really nice email which mentioned my grandmother AND she liked my blog!!!  OMG!  Someone famous has read here!!!!  This will make me smile for the rest of the day.  Or the week.  Or really, my life!


My stovetop and oven(s) installation is scheduled!  April 12th, baby!  Stay tuned for photos… Oh, I can’t wait!  Just in time for both Passover and a Middle-Eastern Themed dinner party.  Whoo-hoo!!!

Is it wrong to be this excited?

One Year

A note about today’s post:  I had a personal blog but recently deleted it as I felt I was done.  The one piece I wanted to hold on to was my periodic letters to my daughter.  As this is now my blogging space, I’m hoping you’ll indulge me the occasional non-food related post.

My darling, wonderful amazing G,

A year ago today, I was working and wondering if you were going to arrive “on time” to meet me.  A year ago today, I was feeling kind of tired and slow but was still enjoying being pregnant.  In fact, I left work early (because everyone kept saying, “Why are you still here??!” and came home to make cookies for the nurses in the delivery room, just in case.  See?  You entered the world surrounded by food!).  A year ago today, I had no idea what my life would look like a year from then.  A year ago today, you came into my life and changed my entire world in an instant.

I can’t believe that you are a year old!  It has been the fastest year of my life, bar none.  Time has simply flown by and while I wish I could slow it down, I am so enjoying watching you grow and change that I know time is going by just as it is supposed to be doing.  I’ve been trying to be mindful and to enjoy every day.  On the nights when you won’t go to sleep, I remind myself that I only have so many nights in which I can snuggle with you like this- before I know it, you won’t want me to hug you as often.  During the days when you’re crabby I remind myself that pretty soon you’ll be talking and telling me “NO!” very emphatically.

I have taught parenting classes and talked about child development for years but it wasn’t until I spent a year watching you develop that I really, truly understood just how amazing it is.  You have gone from a small, helpless little blob, really, to a chatty, strong, person.  With your own personality, wishes, needs and desires.  It is really awesome, in the true sense of that word, to think about how quickly you’ve grown.  It’s still hard for me to believe that you’ve gone from this:

to this:

to this:

and this:

Darling little G, you are so happy!  Last night as I watched, you were grinning and laughing in your sleep.  I can only imagine what was happening in your dreams but I’m so glad that in that place I can’t reach you, you’re happy.  It’s a reflection, I think, of how happy you are in general.  You’re so good-natured and easy-going.  I hope it’s a quality that will last as it will serve you well in years to come.  I still don’t really understand how two very stubborn, anxious parents created you but I’m so glad we did!

In a year you have learned how to roll over, sit up, pull up, stand up and you’re well on your way to walking.  You have some words (Dah-dee, Uh-O and, most recently, Hi!) and some signs (milk, more and please) and you’ve been known to combine them to make sentences.  You love the dogs and have a serious mutual love affair going with the cat.  You love the people you know and you’re almost always interested in the people you don’t know yet.  No teeth yet (I have a small secret fear of you being the only kindergartener still gumming her food!)- but some should be here soon- I can see the little bumps.

Right now, as I type this, you’re scooting around on the floor, standing by the sofa and chatting away.  It’s as though you wake up full of things to tell me and you don’t stop until you fall asleep at night.  I’m sort of afraid of what will happen when you have even more words!

I’m joking, of course.  I can’t wait to see how you develop and change over the coming year and there are so many things I’m looking forward to sharing with you.  Cooking, reading, singing- I’m excited for when you can do those. You do already try all three and, for someone only one, you’re pretty successful at them!  I think daycare has been partially responsible for this and it has been so wonderful for you- you have friends you’re excited to see each day and you’re very social.  You participate in music class there and you’ve even learned how to nap.  On the sofa, next to the caregiver because you’re kind of a princess but still, you’re napping!

Oh, my darling, darling girl.  I am so grateful that you’ve chosen me and that you’ve come into my life.  I know I had 34 years before you but, honestly?  I can’t remember them all that clearly.  One year with you has blurred those memories so much that I feel like they belong to someone else.  I never knew I could love anyone as much as I love you and I can only hope that someday you’ll feel the same way about someone.  In the meantime, I will continue to snuggle you and keep you close for as long as you’ll let me (you have developed quite an independent streak which I expect to get stronger over time!).

I love you, sweet girl.  I can’ t wait to see what this year has in store for us!

Love always,