Thursday, April 21, 2011


This week Dora drew the sweetest, cutest, most heartwarming portrait of our family. I'm going to frame it and keep it forever. She's been drawing these little stick figure, head-is-the-entire-body kind of people for a little while and they are super-cute, but this is the first time I could really look at what she drew and see what she is trying to communicate. It's obviously two adults and a child, and we are all smiling and sort of looking at each other. It makes me smile and start to cry all at once, and gives me that feeling that my heart is about to explode. 

She's been doing a lot of writing, too - practicing her letters, writing her name, and asking to write my name and Brian's name (with our help reminding her of what letters to draw). I'm so proud to see her doing that, too, but there is something about seeing a drawing of hers that communicates something so specific that is really moving to me. It's like this new window into her mind, into the way she sees her world, into what our little family means to her. It's like getting to know her from a whole new perspective. 

We've had a trying week - no naps during the day leading to really fussy evenings, lots going on at work for me, and Brian out working late every night. Between all of that and being pregnant, I feel completely exhausted. Either I wasn't this tired with Dora or I conveniently forgot. I feel like I have almost no time to focus on this baby. Someone told me yesterday about a friend of hers who said she felt guilty because she had no time to focus her attention inward with her second baby, and I completely agree. It's almost like the baby knows, in a way, to keep making its presence known. If I'm getting upset or stressed in a meeting - even just the slightest bit - it starts to kick and move around right away, as if to say, "hey, don't forget about me, don't let that heart rate get too high because you're not the only one having to live with it."

I was crying with another pregnant friend the other day about that moment, whenever it comes, when we say goodbye to baby number 1 as we're leaving for the hospital, knowing it will be our last time with just them. This is not to say that I am not excited about having another baby, because I really, truly am. All of us are - even (especially) Dora. But even when we have our trying weeks, I love being Dora's mom. She's so amazing and I'm so lucky to have her in my life. It's really a joy - even feels sometimes like a luxury - to be able to focus completely and entirely on her, on giving her love and praise and holding her close. I will love having another baby and, yet, there is a part of me that is sad about letting go of the image of just the three of us with our round happy eyes and smiley faces. 

After dinner tonight Dora said, "I'm not going to be a baby ever again". This was after lots of talk tonight about becoming a big sister, and how when she's 4 we'll be having a new baby. I know of course that she won't be a baby again - she doesn't look or act like a baby anymore, even though she holds on to a few baby habits that, when she's very quiet or asleep, make her look just like she did as a baby. But somehow hearing her say it got me a little choked up. I looked at her and said, "well, of course, but you know you'll always be my baby." She smiled her sweet little smile and said "yes."

Soon Dora will be drawing our family portrait and adding a smiling, happy baby to the mix. Soon none of us will be able to imagine our lives without baby 2, and I know that welcoming him or her into our lives will be a joyful and beautiful experience. There is a grief in that, too, a loss just like there was when Dora came into our lives. Maybe I'm more aware of that now because I've already experienced it, or maybe I'm just tired and emotional. I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that when I look at Dora, or at her little family portrait, I feel like my heart will explode with love for her, feel my soul filled up with the power of this love that's like nothing else in this world. To have the chance to feel that again for another baby, to have my heart expand even more than I thought possible, and to watch that love unfold between Dora and her sibling - that's a sweet, cute, heartwarming portrait of a family, too, one that I want to frame and keep forever.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dark Chocolate Almond Banana Muffins

What's that you say? A recipe? Shocking I know, as I hardly ever post them anymore. Recently I read Julia Child's "My Life in France" (which I adored), and although I know this is the exact opposite of what she intended, it made me a little more timid about improvising and making things up in the kitchen. That, and all of my recipe-reading, Top Chef-watching, foodie-blog obsessing made me feel a little less-than-qualified to be writing about food. Don't get me wrong - I love food (love it, especially now), and love making things from scratch, reading recipes, taking pictures of the food I make, etc. I'm definitely a foodie - but one who creates her own things? I don't know...

But, tonight, we had this bunch of brown bananas, and it seemed like time to make banana muffins. I've made this Moosewood Restaurant banana muffin recipe many times, but I was missing my usual chocolate chip/walnut combo. Then, I found half a bag of Hershey's Special Dark nuggets with almonds in my cupboard and it was time for a little improv. Just a little. 

Dark Chocolate Almond Banana Muffins
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar 
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/2 cup (or so) coarsely chopped dark chocolate with almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer or by hand, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, and bananas. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the vanilla and chopped chocolate. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Enjoy while warm as a bedtime snack with a glass of milk. And don't forget to improvise.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The author of one of the blogs I read regularly has had a book proposal accepted (her second). I read this yesterday and was reminded that I want to do that. I have ideas bouncing around for this in my head, but I never really find the time to hone them, or if I do I find that perhaps the ideas aren't as well-developed as I thought. It's something I really want to do, though, partly because I think I have something to say and partly because I've fallen into the trap of romanticizing the idea of being a writer. There. I said it. At least I'm being honest. 

So after I read this I came home thinking about the things I want to do, the kind of person I want to be - some things I'm already doing and some things I'm only dreaming about. In my mind it turned into something of a mini-photo essay, a words and pictures kind of mini-inventory of where I am, and where I want to go. Mini. As in, not including everything. Here goes. 

I want to be the kind of person who has a dining room table with flowers on it, free of clutter and bills and paperwork waiting to be sorted. I'm almost never this person unless it's a special occasion, or people are coming over for dinner. But it's spring and the lilacs are about to bloom, so it happened on a regular old Tuesday, meatloaf night. 

I want to be the kind of person who brings their kids into the kitchen and helps them fall in love with food and cooking at an early age. Sometimes I am. 

 I want to be the kind of person who makes meals from scratch. I almost always do that. 

I want to be the kind of person who knows how to use a new piece of photography equipment on the first try. I'm not. My first roll of film shot through the Diana is almost all underexposed.

I want to be patient. I'm not always, but every once in a while I am. 

I want to be the kind of person who writes a successful book proposal, who writes in her blog about the new book that's going to be coming out soon, with her name on the cover.

I'm not. Yet.