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Eva 2 months old

I remember…

…settling into the sofa, knowing I wouldn’t get up again for the next eight hours at least. Mike leaving for class or work, my chest tightening, deep breath, we’ll be okay. Stockpiling the end table with liters of water, pistachios, roasted almonds, dried cranberries, dates, dried apricots and dried cherries, a cup of coffee hot and creamy, an extra pair of breast shields, a nail file to file down sharp newborn nails, my phone, and all the TV remotes. Comfy clothes and lots of pillows and just me and Eva for hours and hours while she nursed, napped, nursed, napped, nursed throughout the day. I would tuck her, naked except her diaper, inside my loose shirt to keep her skin-to-skin. Leaving the sofa only to change her diaper or use the bathroom. Michelle or my mother would come around lunch time to fix me a sandwich and hold her while I ate. If they had a little extra time I’d hop in the shower while they cuddled her. I watched two seasons of “Call the Midwife” and season 6 of “Mad Men” this way…

…how terrified I was of dropping her, or of someone else dropping her…

…touching my face in the shower, my still half-paralyzed face, a face I’d spent years analyzing for flaws, hating and picking and feeling ashamed of. Touching this face with my fingers and feeling not my face, but my daughter’s face instead, and suddenly being overwhelmed with self-love, something I had not ever experienced in my entire life. Touching my belly, still big and round, now soft and squishy. Loving this big soft belly that housed my daughter, wanting to show it off and proclaim to anyone who would listen: THIS belly made this baby! This belly was her home! This gorgeous, big, round, squishy belly! How Eva kneaded my belly with her toes and how I was so happy and glad that my body was soft and big like a pillow for her tiny body to curl into…

…how proud and delighted I was when, at her three-day check-up, I learned she had gained six ounces since her birth, instead of losing weight like most babies do. My milk was making her nice and fat and I was amazed and thrilled when the doctor told me how she was thriving…

…the dark downy fur across the backs of her shoulders and her lower back, down into her bottom. My little monkey baby…

…how her fingers reminded me of an old lady’s fingers, how they were somehow familiar, like I’d seen those old lady fingers before, on my Aunt Sue maybe?…

…how she snuggled her face into my bosom after nursing, as if it was the world’s most comfortable, coziest pillow…

Mama, Papa, Baby and dogs

Little Bits

 

Newborn baby, mother, and dog

I remember…

…the morning light filtering through the tree outside our bedroom window and Mike coming in with a smile on his face and a hot cup of coffee for me. My heart so full it might burst, our tiny, perfect child tucked into my arm, the two of us in a comfortable nest of pillows, her little hands massaging for more milk, suckling, suckling, suckling. I remember being so amazed that I was able to breastfeed, that I was making milk and that it was making her bigger every day. I have a thousand fuzzy cell phone photos of her little head on my breast, nursing, then milk-drunk and fast asleep…

…feeling afraid each evening as the sun went down, scared because the day was ending and no, I wasn’t ready for that, please don’t let the day end yet. Tomorrow she’ll be bigger and we’ll be one day closer to real life, going back to work, commitments and responsibilities. I wanted this time, this perfect peaceful time of rest and bonding to last forever…

…being afraid to turn off the lights and say goodnight because what if, when I woke up in the morning, she was gone? I worried about SIDS until my chest closed and I couldn’t breathe. I remember talking about my fears in our Newborn Parenting Support class, tears streaming down my face, what if what if what if? I read everything I could about it, knowing the information would either make my fears worse or ease them. It eased them. I did everything they say to do to protect her but even now I still worry…

…my father calling every day on his lunch hour, to check in, offer to bring me lunch, ask to hold the baby even just for a few minutes. Of course, Papa. I would say. Come! Hold your granddaughter… and then I could slip away and take a hot shower knowing Eva was in arms and listening to a beating heart that loved her…

Sweetly Sleeping Infant

…waking up in the middle of the night with her, so tired, so tired. Little cries. Is this really my life? This exhausted magic? Change a diaper, tip toe through the little dark apartment, her breath on my neck, little hands to her tiny mouth, small sucking sounds and chirps. My heart fluttering and my eyes bleary, the red light from the snake tank our only light. Shapes in the shadows, shhhhh, its okay, we’re okay, nothing can harm us, we’re safe…

…my mother bought us these incredible steaks and Mike fixed them with vegetables for a fantastic dinner, which we ate in bed against a pile of pillows, the baby on my knees, so small, so sweet. Awake, alert, watching us with her newborn eyes…

…my father, who’s never done a load of laundry in his entire seventy-five years of life, folding my sheets and pajamas and Mike’s underpants while I nursed a hungry baby…

Breastfeeding a newborn

…watching my beloved husband fall deeper and deeper in love with his daughter every day…

Father and Newborn Baby

 

9 Months In, 9 Months Out

9 months pregnant

38, nearly 39 weeks pregnant – the night my water broke

Eva and me, 9 months post-partum

38 weeks, nearly 39 weeks postpartum

Exactly nine months ago today I pissed myself on the landing outside my front door while leashing up the dogs for a walk. Except it wasn’t actually pee. Just, you know, amniotic fluid. Still blows my mind.

Tomorrow Eva will be nine months old. I can’t wrap my head around it. On one hand I feel like she was JUST born and on the other hand I can’t remember my life without her in it. How is it possible that just a minute ago she looked like this:

newborn baby

And now she looks like this:

8 month old infant standing

Trippy trippy trippity trip.

She’s completely mobile now. She crawls super fast, pulls herself up on everything from the coffee table to my legs. She’s started cruising – taking wobbly steps while she she moves along furniture, the side of her crib, whatever. She loves bath time, chasing the dogs, licking their bowls, pressing her face into the screen door, going for walks with her papa. She still nurses nearly every two hours but also eats whatever I’m eating. Most of it ends up in her hair or on her lap, but every day a little bit more ends up in her tummy. I’m still squeezing her into my favorite of her nine-month outfits, but her twelve-month clothes fit better. She sleeps in her crib from about 7:30 p.m. until her first feeding after we’ve gone to bed, then I bring her into our bed to snuggle and nurse. Some nights she sleeps long stretches and some nights she wakes every twenty minutes. On those nights I remind myself that she will never again be as small as she is right now. And I take a deep breath, exhale, then smell the top of her delicious head, press my lips to her forehead and thank heaven for the gift of her in my arms.

In some ways I still feel like we are very much one unit, she and I. Like I’m still pregnant, almost. For 18 months my body has belonged to her and its been an incredibly profound experience. I’ve never used a stroller, but wear her every where. She’s never taken a bottle and so I’ve never left her with anyone for more than a couple of hours – and I can count on both hands how many times I’ve done that. I had no idea that I would be so comfortable belonging to someone else completely – but its been incredible. Like this was what I was born to do. This is why I exist. To mother this child. To care for her, protect her, nourish her, bathe her, encourage her, watch her, learn from her. I’ve never felt so alive, so full, so happy in my life.

But I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been days (and nights) when I felt like my heart was in a vice grip. Once when she was three months old and wouldn’t stop screaming I drove her to my mother’s house, handed her over, and went upstairs to sob until I had no tears left. The thought of spending the day with a screaming baby (she was not sick or dirty or cold, no diaper pin sticking her – she was just having a bad day) was too much to bare and it was either take her to my mother’s or put her in her crib and leave. I was lucky to have my mother so close by. And lucky because I knew it was normal to have that kind of day. But I think I’m especially lucky because those days (and nights) have been so far and few between.

So here’s to nine months of boundless joy. My love, my heart, my soul, my Eva Milan.

 Newborn portrait

Empress Eva, 5 days new

8 mo old at Farm Fair

Last Sunday, at the Pierce College Pumpkin Patch and Animal Farm

Eva’s Birth – An Epilogue

three day old infant and mother

Mike snapped this shot of Eva and me on his cell phone when she was 3 days old.

(I started this post months ago, but the days have a funny way of slipping by too quickly. So here it is, now, nearly nine months after the fact. )

That first night, as they wheeled us from Labor & Delivery to Postpartum, I was in shock, almost. Utter disbelief. We did it. Mike and me. We made a baby and here she was, living and breathing in my arms. I birthed a baby, with no drugs, just pushed her out and bam. I’d been dreaming of this moment my entire life and here it was, all of a sudden, as real as anything.

I barely slept. Not because the baby kept me awake but because my feelings kept me awake. My happiness. My body felt wrecked – like I’d been through battle – but my heart was so full I didn’t care. I couldn’t bear to put my tiny baby in a bassinet so she slept the night in my arms, waking every hour or so to nurse and I was only too happy to feed her.

Looking back, it still seems surreal. And I still can’t really find adequate words to describe the completeness and fullness of my happiness. I remember we kept the lights on in our hospital room and I never took my glasses off because I wanted to look at her, gaze at her nonstop. She was real. Tiny, perfect, alive, breathing, in my arms. Unbelievable.

This was all I ever wanted, in my whole life, since I was a little girl. A baby. I never had any real career ambition – I really tried to because its what you’re supposed to do, right? Be ambitious about a career? But my heart was never in it. I just wanted to be a mama. And now, finally, after all these years, I was. Am. Consider my mind officially blown.

The next day was still surreal. I think it was my unending joy, or the hormones, or both that kept me wide awake despite the fact that I hadn’t slept more than an hour in two days. Family came from all over Los Angeles to meet our sweet babe and we were delighted to show her off. We checked out of the hospital late Saturday night and went home. Michelle had stocked our fridge with food and the dogs were thrilled to see us, much more interested in the cheese Mike was feeding them than the baby in my arms. Mike snuggled Eva while I had my first (wonderful) shower since Friday morning. Then he showered while I nursed Eva on the sofa, a pamphlet about breastfeeding open in my lap. My nipples were starting to get sore and I wanted to work on our latch.

I don’t remember when we finally went to bed but it was late, after 11 probably, and I couldn’t bear to put her in our bassinet. I couldn’t bear to put her down, period. I’d waited my whole life for her, she’d spent nine months inside my body, how on EARTH could I be expected to put her down? I was too scared to try sleeping with her in our bed, worried I’d roll over on her or she’d smother, so I spent the night wandering in circles around our living room, whispering, praying, nursing, changing diapers. The dogs howled every time she cried and I winced, worried that this was our new life, dogs howling all night, the neighbors cursing us as they tried to sleep. I was so tired, so very tired, at some point I realized it wasn’t safe for me to wander with her in my arms – I nearly tripped once and another time almost bonked her head on a corner. At 4:30 a.m. I woke Mike up, asked him to take over so I could sleep. He was happy to – held her in his arms and walked with her, cooing and whispering and cuddling while I got four delicious hours of uninterrupted sleep.

The second night home we decided to sleep with her in our bed. I left all the lights on and slept with my glasses on because I needed to be able to open my eyes and see her there, safe and sound, still breathing. We slept on our bed bare of sheets, blankets, or pillows, the heater cranked up to keep us warm on that cool January night. I curled my body around Eva and Mike curled his body around me. I understand that bed-sharing is incredibly controversial, and we did not make the decision lightly. It was, in our opinion, the safest and most natural option. And it allowed me to tend to her every need immediately. She never cried at night but only peeped and I was able to nurse her immediately. We slept well together and Mike and I experienced no sleep-deprivation (until recently – ha!).

It took a few nights, but eventually I felt safe turning the lights off to sleep, taking my glasses off. I remember it was a few weeks before I could nurse her without turning all the lights back on and getting into a comfortable position. Eventually I figured out how to nurse her while lying on my side and then the benefits of bed-sharing really became clear.

You think, at the time, that you’ll never forget these incredible moments, the extraordinary ordinary minutes of every day. But they tend to slip away, fading out, until they’re gone. I don’t remember now what the first day home was like, not really. I remember pieces: The home nurse coming to visit, weighing Eva, examining me, helping with breastfeeding. I remember family coming to visit. I remember Mike cleaned the whole house top to bottom, did all the laundry, fed me whenever I was hungry, kept visitors out of the bedroom while Eva and I napped.  I remember reading to her, curled up in our bed. I remember dancing with her in the living room, singing “At Last” and crying because I was so, so, so happy. Once, Mike found me sobbing over the baby. Terrified, he rushed over to find her sleeping peacefully at my breast. “What happened??” I looked up at him, and said between sobs, “I’m just so happy! So, so, so happy…”

That’s what I remember most about those early days of new parenthood. Being overwhelmingly, absolutely, so, so, so happy. Like every wish I’d ever wished and every dream I’d ever dreamed had come true. My parents ran errands for us, helped fold laundry, brought groceries. Michelle brought hot meals. Mike kept the house, cooked, changed every single diaper for a week straight. We never put Eva down, not once for several weeks. If I needed to use the bathroom or shower, Mike held her, or my mom or dad held her, or Michelle held her. But she was in arms always, listening to a beating heart, bathed in love and adoration.

 

The last 11 weeks

You guys. My period is 107 days late. Do you think it could have something to do with this?

PREGNANT!

Surprise!!! I’ve known since May 23, 2013, otherwise known as Most Epic Day Of My Life So Far. I just haven’t said anything because, you know, science. Or something. But now I’m 16 weeks along and confident this fetus is going to stick around for the long haul so Mike and I are ready to shout it out to the rooftops, INTERNET GUESS WHAT??? WE’VE SPAWNED!!! (Is that the correct usage of that word? I have no idea.)

16 Weeks (4 Months)
16 Weeks

Niblet, as I’ve affectionately nicknamed the fetus, is due on January 27, 2014 — three days after my birthday. Best birthday gift I’ll ever get ever, I tell you what.

Pregnancy so far has been pretty easy. I know, I want to punch me in the face too. Around 8 weeks I started feeling really nauseous all day every day. I never threw up (thank goodness because I am a total idiot when vomit is involved, I do not handle it well) and while I’m still nauseous all day every day, it’s much much better than it was.

Even before I knew I was knocked up I was exhausted, but convinced I wasn’t pregnant (long story involving a 2 1/2 week late period, and a false negative test, so of course, you know, I was convinced I was going through early menopause or dying of cancer) so drinking LOADS and LOADS of coffee to keep myself going. Of course as soon as I knew about Niblet I gladly gave that up and resorted to naps. Lots and lots of heavenly, wonderful naps and very early bedtimes.

The only other real symptom I’ve had has been the UNCONTROLLABLE INSANE MONSTER LIKE STARVATION. When I’m not nauseous I am STARVING TO DEATH SOMEONE FEED ME A SANDWICH NOW OR THERE WILL BE BLOOD AND IT WON’T BE MINE FEED ME SEYMOUR FEEEEEEEEED MEEEEEEEEE. Lord I’ve never been so hungry in my life. I’m eating a meal every 90 minutes, for reals. For the first 3 1/2 months I joked that I was living the life of a new baby: Sleep, eat, sleep, poop, eat, sleep, poop, eat, sleep, poop, eat, sleep, repeat.

9 Weeks
9 Weeks and feeling awful

Oh, and there’s my boobs. My girls felt like open chest wounds of miserable pain up until about a week ago. Putting on or taking off a bra brought tears and whimpers, no joke. Now they’re just enormous. Mike keeps asking how I manage to stay upright but I can’t answer that question. Magic, maybe?

Lovin my little 12 week fetus.
12 Weeks and Hello Knockers!

Last week The Itching began. I’d heard about The Itching (it begins when your skin starts to stretch out to make room for the growing fetus), but I was not prepared for the Itchiness of The Itching. My lower back, sides, and belly itch like there are a billion microscopic itchy fleas eating me alive. Despite constantly slathering coconut oil all over myself, my skin feels dry, tight, and ITCHY. SO ITCHY.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining – I’m not complaining! I am so, so, so happy. I’d take this itching, starving, nauseous, sleepy mess that is my body right now over anything else in the world, just to make that clear. I’m giddy with joy and have been for the past 11 weeks. I feel like the luckiest (itchiest) girl alive.

Here are some pleasant surprises about my pregnancy so far:

1) My skin is literally glowing. I was convinced I’d have the acne I had at 16, but Lord has Spared me that. (Except on my back. Ugh, bacne. No cute backless summer dresses for me.)

2) My confidence level. I was positive I’d be a neurotic mess while pregnant. Worried and obsessing over every little thing. Instead I’m just stupid happy and confident that Niblet is growing strong and healthy.

3) My hormone levels. Sure I have the occasional outburst of hysterical sobbing, but my hormones were about a thousand times worse during PMS than they have been so far in pregnancy. The only thing really different is that the teeensiest thing (sad or happy) makes me well up. But I can usually take a deep breath, blink, and stop the downpour before it begins.

4) (This one wasn’t pleasant but now is? Still totally surprised me.) Up until today, I did NOT like watching my waistline expand. I thought I would love it, but no sir, no thank you. I’ve just felt fat and unattractive for the last 11 weeks, but today I felt pregnant and beautiful and I’m hoping that keeps up. (Hello Vanity. You are a nasty little twat.)

5) Love and romance. I feel closer to and more in love with Mike than ever before. He’s been an absolute champ – coming to every prenatal appointment, rubbing my feet, helping out with chores, listening to me blather on about nursery decor, assuring me I’m beautiful when I feel like a blubber butt, scratchin’ my itches, and lovin’ on the fetus every day. I really am the luckiest girl alive.

I’ve got a Flickr set of belly photos for those of you who are so inclined. (Once you’re in there, click on the photos for captions.) I’m so happy to finally be able to share this news with you and I so appreciate your reading.

13 Weeks
Ultrasound at 13 Weeks and healthy as can be.

(PS. How badly to you want to eat that little face?)

xoxo

me.

Fragile Little Flower

balcony garden

This picture was taken once upon a time* when I had a dreamy job working from home. Whenever the weather was nice enough, which it almost always is, I would sit out there to work. Eight hours in front of a computer isn’t so bad when your cubicle mates are humming birds. I miss sitting out there.

For the last two months I’ve been working long hours in an office. It’s only temporary and it’s a beautiful office, but it kills me how little time there is left in a day when you work away from home. I mean, I never used to have to put on makeup or plan my outfits or shower, even. I feel like I lose hours every day just primping. It’s kind of fun, actually. I’ve never felt so feminine. But that’s not the point. The point is, from waking until almost bedtime I’m either preparing for work, working, or doing household chores. Most days I don’t get a minute to myself until after nine-thirty at night. How does that happen? Where do the days go?

While we’re on the topic, how on GOD’S GREEN EARTH do parents with fulltime jobs make it through a week? Seriously. Because I can barely manage it and I only have dogs. I don’t know how I would manage my life and my marriage if I had another human being to look after. I don’t think I would ever sleep, ever again. I’ve already given up exercising. I haven’t moved my body, except to stand up and sit down, in two months. And for the record, I’m not getting enough sleep. It’s horrible. I should go to bed right now, but then I wouldn’t get to sit here and complain about how hard my child-free first world life is.

I know there are people reading this blog who have careers and happy marriages and children and always look great and put together and I cannot wrap my head around how they do it. I feel like it would be impossible. Am I just incredibly weak? That must be it. I’m a fragile little flower. No wonder I love sitting out on the balcony in the sun all afternoon. It explains everything.

How do you do it? You super-people with your careers and your babies and your perfect hair? I want to know.

The cat on the table and the child in my head

I’m chopping vegetables when she starts crying, a plaintive meowing. She paces across the kitchen table, coat gleaming, belly hanging, begging for my attention. “I’m sorry, Cat. I’m fixing dinner. I’ve got nothing for you.”

In my head she’s a little girl. Three or four. Her eyes wide and pleading, “Mama, play with me!”

“I’m sorry, Baby. I’m fixing dinner. Papa will be home soon and I’m hungry! Would you like to help?”

She peels the garlic and breaks heads off brocoli stalks. “They look like tiny trees!” She is gleeful. I’m in awe of her strong little hands and the pleasure she takes in such simple tasks.

And then I chide myself for being so stupid. Getting lost in childish imaginings. Children are not in the picture. Not now, not for years, maybe never. Maybe because you never know and maybe because it just seems impossible. The other day I asked Michael, “How will we know?”

“When I have a job and we have health care and we’re ready to buy a house and we’re not worried about paying bills every month. Maybe then.”

Maybe we’ll wait until we’re in our forties and adopt. I can see myself, like all those women I watched in Manhattan with long silver hair and ethnic children. I could love any child I held in my arms, I know that.

By now I’ve peeled and chopped a whole garlic bulb, but I don’t care. I sprinkle it over the vegetables, slide it into the oven, set the timer. I over-season everything. Fresh cracked pepper makes raw chicken black. Kosher salt, onion flakes, garlic powder, oregano, basil, sage smells like pee but I sprinkle on three-times the amount you would anyway. The chicken will come out of the oven crunchy for spices but I don’t care. I like it that way. Just like I like my food burned crisp. Everything tasting like it came out of a campfire. Smoky.

I reach for another beer. Dinner is in the oven but Mike won’t be home for three hours at least. I’ll eat alone while I balance the budget. Wait up for him. Reheat a plate for him. Press my face into his neck while he eats. Breathe. So glad he’s home.

This is my second installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments, begun by Heather of the EO. You should totally join in.

Help Me

happy wiener

That is one seriously happy wiener.

Last night I was clearing the kitchen table so I could put together some favors for an office event. I’m picking up screw drivers and receipts and mail and recently-removed lampshade hats and I’m thinking to myself, “My goodness. We’re just living all over this place.”

What a funny thought. And so perfectly true. We’re living all over the place. Our lives are simple — work, school, chores, dog walks, dinner, work, school, chores, dog walks, dinner, work, school, chores, dog walks, dinner — but we love it that way. There are things we could whine and bitch about, for sure, but we have a good life. We’re in love. We’ve got these two stupid dogs and these two mean cats and a python that thinks we’re just barely too big to eat. We’ve got a huge, wonderful extended family. Mike is in school and I love my job and everything is kind of perfect. We’re living and enjoying our life instead of sloshing through it just to survive. And sometimes that means there are wads of dog hair under the kitchen table and piles of mail on top of it, but my point is: Mess on the kitchen table and all, I wouldn’t change a thing about our life.

Or would I? I’ve been thinking a lot about babies. (Like that’s new.) At first I thought it was just because I was ovulating, but that was weeks ago and I’m still baby crazy. (More than usual.) But then I think about our life now, and how different it would be if there was a baby. And I think about how much work a baby is and I know that I would end up doing most of the work because Mike doesn’t have boobs and how could I balance it with my job? And what if I suck at it? What if I hate it? What if I resent the baby or Mike resents the baby because everything was perfect and then we had a baby and ruined everything? I hear that’s what happens to people. They have a new baby and for the first three months they stare at that screaming thing and wonder what on Earth they did to their life.

I don’t want to feel that way about a baby. I want us to be stupidly, madly, happily in love with our baby. But what if we’re not? THEN WHAT?

This is what keeps me awake at night.

Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Yesterday I tried to post this recipe but instead I got carried away talking all about our wonderful anniversary/family visit. And as much as I loved pouring over family photos that week, I equally loved spending one-on-one time visiting with my mother-in-law. I realize that the cliche is a mother-in-law who meddles and sticks her nose in and disapproves of everything, but my mother-in-law is anything but that. She’s absolutely lovely. She reminds me a lot of my Aunt Sue – my mother’s beloved Aunty who passed away when I was 16. I spent my childhood at Aunt Sue’s heels while she baked cakes and served fairy tea in miniature china teacups. I spent hours with my head resting on her ample bosom, while she told stories about her childhood home, our nation’s capital, the illustrious Washington D.C.  She’s been gone for years, but I see her in my mother-in-law. The way Mom pads around the kitchen in red knit ballet slippers, telling stories about her childhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where her mother lived her entire life in a two-bedroom house with no kitchen sink. We spent our mornings immersed in photo albums, our afternoons cooking, and every evening I curled up at her feet like a cat and asked for more stories. More!

When Michael’s parents were first married, they owned a beautiful sailboat that they’d take out for weeks at a time. Michael cut his teeth sailing and I have seen the photos to prove it. (omgsoadorable.)  The following is a recipe for the strawberry pie Michael’s mother used to make on the boat whenever they went out to sea. It’s unbelievably easy and it’s probably one of the best strawberry pies I’ve ever eaten.

Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Oven: This will depend on the type of crust you use
Prep: 30 min.
Bake: Nada
What You’ll Need:
frozen/refrigerated pie crust
fresh strawberries
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
whipping cream
sugar
vanilla extract

We started with a Marie Callender’s frozen pie crust. I was skeptical because I’ve always insisted on baking my own pie crusts from scratch, but this pie crust was so delicious – flaky, tender, flavorful – I don’t know if I’ll ever go to the trouble of making a crust from scratch again. We followed the instructions on the box, which were something along the lines of “take the crust out of the box, prick it all over with a fork, bake it for 15 minutes, voila!”

While the crust was in the oven, we washed the strawberries, trimmed their tops off, and set them out to dry. It’s important that the strawberries are completely dry before you put them in the pie.

When the crust had baked and cooled, you sift 1 cup of powdered sugar evenly into the pie crust.

When the strawberries are completely dry, you arrange them in the powdered sugar dusted pie crust.

strawberries

We were only about half-done filling the crust with strawberries at this point…

Next, sift 1 more cup of powdered sugar over the strawberries, covering evenly and completely.

If you want to make your own whipped cream, now is the time. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your whipping cream and whip on high while slowly adding sugar to taste. We forgot to buy whipping cream, but Mom had Cool Whip on hand and that worked perfectly.

Cover your pie with whipped cream (or Cool Whip) like so:

whipping cream

You want to completely cover the pie with whipped cream, much the way you would cover a meringue-topped pie with meringue – sealed all the way to the edges. Put the pie in the fridge for two or three hours to chill before serving. Voila! You’re done! Easy peasy and completely delicious.

fini

Now I wish I’d taken a photo of the pie once it was cut and plated because in addition to being delicious, it was also gorgeous. But you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Now onward! Make pies!

Strawberry Pie

The week of our anniversary, we went to visit Michael’s mother in her home – not his childhood home, his parents didn’t buy this house until the summer before his senior year in high school, but he did live in this house, and it was a really big deal for me to visit his mom in her home, where he once lived, because we’ve been together for nearly eight years and I’d never even seen a baby picture of him.

You can tell what a big deal it was because that entire paragraph turned into one giant run-on sentence.

You see, Mike’s mother lives out of state and for one reason or another, we’ve never been able to visit her. She’s visited us several times, but we’d never been able to visit her. In fact, Mike hadn’t been home at all in eleven years. It was time.

We stayed for three days and we didn’t leave the house except once to swing by the supermarket. Instead of running around doing stuff, we spent all three days pouring over old family photo albums. Actually, Mike studied for micro-biology while his mother and I poured over old family photo albums. I was absolutely in heaven. I got to look through Michael’s baby book – his baby book! I saw his first lock of hair from his first haircut and the hospital bracelet he came home in and the very first penny he ever found and picked up for good luck. You guys. The happiness almost killed me.

And the photo albums! There were pictures of all of his Halloween costumes – he was Chewbaca two years in a row and if you saw this costume you would die itissoadorable. There were pictures of his first Christmas and every Christmas after. Snapshots from his birthday parties and his first steps and all these beautiful, happy, perfect memories caught in tiny squares of faded paper like so many pressed rose petals.

It’s funny because I was secretly a little sad that our anniversary trip was a trip to visit family. Not that I wasn’t delighted to be visiting family because I was. I planned this trip and looked forward to it for months. Just that, you know, it was our five-year wedding anniversary, it would have been nice to go somewhere romantic and alone. But as it turned out, this quality time with family was exactly what we needed.

I want to know Michael. I want to understand everything about him. I want to know him better than anyone in the world. I wish I could go back in time and be a fly on the wall at his sixth birthday party. Or I wish I could have been his favorite toy – his little velveteen rabbit. It drove me crazy that we’d been together for so long, but I’d never even seen one of his baby pictures. There was this chunk of his past that was a complete mystery to me. I’d ask him questions about his childhood and he’d look at me like I was crazy and say, “How am I supposed to remember that?” But now I know he had tin-soldier wallpaper and a birthday cake shaped like the Easter bunny. I’ve seen his lego towers and his cat Snowball. I’ve read his birth announcement and flipped through his parents’ wedding album. Pieces of him, however small they may be.

The visit was also an extraordinary opportunity for me and my mother-in-law to bond over the greatest thing we have in common – the tall, handsome, funny, smart, strong, kind of nerdy man we both love. I got to gush over pictures of her towheaded, blue-eyed baby boy while she took a leisurely stroll down memory lane. She told the most wonderful stories about my husband’s childhood and of her own life, before he was born. I’m still kicking myself because we didn’t bring our digital recorder. It would have been incredible to record these family stories. (Remind me to tell you about three-year-old Mike and the inflatable bunny.) One night his Aunt and Uncle joined us for dinner – I had never met them before and they were the absolute loveliest people – and it was such fun to hear Mike’s mother and her big brother reminiscing about their childhood. You guys, it was amazing. It was the best time ever.

I don’t know how to put into words why this experience – this chance to peek into a part of my husband’s past – was so important to me. Before the trip, I loved Michael more than I ever knew I was capable of loving someone. But after the trip? Afterwards I couldn’t believe how much more I loved him. It was as if my heart grew three sizes bigger and all the extra, new space was filled up with Michael.

This post was supposed to be a post with a recipe for my mother-in-law’s awesome strawberry pie, but I got a little carried away talking about our wonderful anniversary/family trip, and now you’ve probably thrown-up in your mouth at least three times (because really? No one wants to hear a married lady gush about her husband) so I’ll post the recipe tomorrow. And now you have something to look forward to! You’re welcome.