Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A letter to my life-with-an-infant self

Dear October 2013 Cara,

I'm writing to you now on a full night of uninterrupted sleep, so you can trust what I'm about to say. It's real.

  • The infant stage is only a season; there will be an end and it is not forever away like you think it is. You will sleep through the night again. You will get your body back. You will stop hurting. You will be able to drink coffee again. You won't have to nurse every 2-3 hours forever. You won't be intimately familiar with your kitchen at 4 a.m. as you pace with a crying baby. You won't always change 12 diapers a day. These things are not forever. Six weeks, eight weeks, four months--whatever. It's not forever, girl, so hang in there.
  • You might feel crazy. That's okay. You aren't sleeping much, and I'm pretty sure soldiers use that as a torture method for POWs, so it's okay to feel crazy. Just let that one go.
  • Just because you had post-partum depression, mastitis, bronchitis, pink eye, laryngitis, and trouble nursing last pregnancy doesn't mean it'll happen again this time. Chill out a little. Take each moment as it comes. If you're supposed to have all the "itis-es" again, you will and you'll make it. Not much you can do about it.
  • Giving Moo less attention than you used to doesn't mean you're a bad mom or that he'll need therapy one day. In fact, giving him a sibling and teaching him how to share you are some of the greatest gifts you can offer him. Kids are resilient, and while you want to be all things to all people (especially the little people under your roof), you can't. And that's a good thing because I'm pretty sure God is the only one who can meet all of our (and our children's) needs anyway.
  • You're going to have those days when the crap hits the fan, when both kids are crying and hungry and ornery and you just want five minutes alone to take a shower so you can not smell like spit up and it's not going to happen. You're going to wonder how you'll make it through the next 60 seconds, how women throughout history have made it through moments like this without distractions like PBS Kids and iPad games. I want you to know that God is there and near. In those moments. In the dark places. In the overwhelming, I-want-out times. He's there. And He knows you and what you need. 
  • Lean into motherhood. Instead of figuring out how you can craft the kids' day around your agenda, be okay with letting some of your list go if it means spending more time with your babes. They're only in your sole care for a few years. Be all there. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Three Things Thursday

*Apology for all the parentheses in this post. I couldn't stop myself.

Thing One: his first potty joke
Y'all. Boys start early with the potty talk and thinking it's funny. Yesterday, after changing a poopy diaper, Moo said, "Raffe make poo-poo" and then started hysterically laughing. (Raffe is his best friend/stuffed animal, seen in the picture below.) The joke went on pretty much exactly like that for a good 20 minutes. To his credit, it was kind of funny. And it gave me a chance to document his incredible smile that's hard to capture when he's on the move so much:

Thing Two: two new books on my bedside table
I haven't cracked open either one, so I can't recommend them personally, but they've both been recommended to me:

  1. Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  2. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein
I'll let you know how they go!

Thing Three: three new recipes
With some inspiration from one of my best friends, Sarah, I've been trying to home-make more food around here. I already like to cook and make a lot of our food, but one things like breakfast food and rolls, I often take a shortcut. I'm okay with shortcuts, but am branching out a bit, so here's what this week's new recipes were:

  1. Blueberry scones (They freeze well too!)
  2. Banana Bread (Better than my Mom's, and that's saying something. We make this on a weekly basis over here.)
  3. Southern Tomato Pie (sounds weird, but you could eat it for dessert it's so good. Even Moo likes it! No online recipe for this one; my mom gave it to me, cut out from an old newspaper.) Here ya go:
  • 4 tomatoes, thickly sliced (you can use any size tomatoes, really, as long as you use enough to fill the pie crust)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves (Go ahead and steal some from your neighbor's garden. Or mine.)
  • 1 sweet onion sliced and sauteed until transparent
  • 1 pre-baked pie shell (Here's where I use the shortcut. Feel free to make your own pie crust.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese (shortcut: buy already shredded/grated)
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar (shortcut: buy already shredded/grated)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (or half cup mayo combined with half cup sour cream to cut calories)
Place sliced tomatoes, basil and onion in pie shell (I like to mix them together first). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Combine cheeses and mayo and spread on top of tomatoes and onions. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve warm.

For those who have smaller families, the first two recipes freeze well (banana bread could be made as muffins and frozen), so go ahead and make the full recipe and then enjoy weeks of homemade breakfast food!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A friend remembered

Do you have that day--that distinct day in your memory--when everyone was happy together one last time? One last time before something irreversibly changed it all?

That was this day for me last year, the last time I was with my friend Saidie and her family before she was diagnosed just days later with incurable cancer.

It was her birthday and Phil, Moo, and I were honored to be the only non-family guests at the party other than their priest. As with all their family birthdays, we laughed, ate delicious Lebanese food, and were filled with happy, happy, happy.

I do remember Saidie telling her sister, though, about a strange pain she'd been having on the right side of her chest. A detail at the time, insignificant until her diagnosis: stage four bile duct cancer. It had spread to her lungs and liver, and she didn't need to tell us what that meant.

She was my mother's age. 

And she was my mom-away-from-home for the past eight years.

Four and a half months later, she was gone. 

She'd want me to remember the good times. All the times we laughed and drank and were merry. The times we dreamed together and celebrated. The times we smiled knowing smiles across a room or discussed the latest sale she found or boasted about how amazing her daughters were (and are).

But it's hard to think only of that when I see reminders of her everywhere I look. I see the gifts she gave Moo at his first birthday and at Christmas and I wish so badly that she could see him play with them, that she could know him and hear him say her name. I drive by her church or her favorite restaurant or I want to get her opinion on baby room ideas because she always had a good eye for decorating and I can't.

And there's that aching void that never goes away but lessens with time, and it hasn't been enough time yet. It still hurts and I miss her and I wish I could be eating Lebanese food with her today and laughing, laughing, laughing until our faces hurt.

But she's also here with me all the time. In her daughters, who are like sisters to me. In my memories. On my mind and in my heart.
She's here. 
And she's not. 
All at the same time.