Tomorrow is Loo's one-year birthday. It seems so hard to believe I have a one-year-old!
All day I have been thinking, one year ago today, I was in labor. All. day. long. Loo's birth was a difficult one; in fact, another mama came to the same birthcenter, had her baby, and went home all while I was still in hard labor. (My midwives wisely did not mention this to me and E. told me later, after Loo was born.)
My pregnancy was healthy and uneventful, save for the usual aches and pains and discomforts of pregnancy. We had no reason to believe the birth would be difficult. E. and I felt prepared. We had read up, we'd practiced "contractions" (E. would help me to completely relax, then he'd press ice cubes to the small of my back for minutes at a time as I attempted to maintain my relaxation. This was a tough little exercise, but in comparison to labor it was a joke.)
Our midwives had given us excellent pre-natal care. I was confident in them and in myself. In my mind, I expected labor to be taxing but of a reasonable duration and I was hopeful that it would progress rather easily. Which it did not. Nothing about Loo's birth was as I expected. From start to finish, my birth experience threw curveball after curveball at my carefully constructed mental expectations. I learned that the one thing you can expect of labor is that it will not go exactly as you envisioned it--perhaps not even close.
One of the things you don't anticipate about having kids is the way it will change your relationship with your spouse. Or rather, the way it interjects elements into your relationship that you never encountered when you were "single."
When E. and I were childless, we showed our love for one another with passionate kisses, love notes (e-mails, really), inside jokes, and gifts at pertinent times. We still do those things but, now, we show love by watching Loo so the other one can sleep. Like right now, E. is upstairs napping blissfully. He has been giving me my share in the mornings, when he wakes up with Loo at 6, feeds him breakfast and otherwise keeps him distracted until around 8 when I take over, God bless him and I mean really.
Before Loo, E. and I had a smokin' hot romance going. We'd skip out of work at 5, go down to the brewpub and attach ourselves to barstools, then gaze at each other and giggle and converse for hours. The bartender called us "his lovebirds." When we tired of that, we'd walk out and on to any number of other fun times, a movie, the art museum, live music. We'd stay out as late as we wanted. We'd do it all over again the next day.
Last night, we went for our fourth date (alone without Loo) in a year. We left 45 minutes later than planned because Loo didn't go down on time. We high-tailed it to our favorite nearby restaurant and enjoyed a delicious meal--one hour. Took a walk down Mississippi Avenue to check out all the new shops and bars--20 minutes. We were home by 11, yawning our asses off. As soon as our dear sitters left, we went to bed. Separately. So we could sleep. Some romance! And yet it was a fabulous evening to us.
Like I said, changes. And honestly, I'm not sure I appreciate all of them. I wouldn't trade Loo for all the tea in China, but I do miss our former life. I miss who we were then. I used to go with E. to his music gigs once or twice a week. Now he goes without me--because I am home with the baby. When I was pregnant, we both naiively thought we'd just bring the baby with us. Of course we knew nothing of bedtimes and meltdowns then. I sort of miss that ignorance.
But you just have to roll with it and change. It is a great irony that you must now plan your spontaneity, but it's true. We're having to learn each other and ourselves all over again in a completely different (and challenging) context. Nobody could have warned us of this and we couldn't have prepared for it. It's an aspect of parenting that you plunge into without knowing it's coming. I'm sure we're going to make it but on those nights when E.'s out playing music, and I've been mama'ing for 12-14 hours straight, I find myself longing for that barstool. I suppose that's natural.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 11, a limosine will pull up in front of my house. I will install Loo's carseat in the limo, and then off we'll go to pick up the rest of the party.
My good friend C. is getting married on Thursday and to celebrate, she's taking all her friends on a wine tour (there are many wineries in Portland's surrounding areas). We'll be gone most of the day.
If all goes well, it will be a total kick. I think Loo'll have a ball riding around in a limo, with a bunch of people to chatter at and entertain. I think he'll be "preachin' to the people" like he does wherever we take him. This could be a lot of fun!
(I better get to bed.)
Beautiful berries today at the Farmer's Market. These I used for berry shortcakes, which I took to our neighbors (who are enjoying their first week with their newborn baby).
The shortcakes were so tender and just right--I have finally found a good shortcake recipe.
Here it is.
4-5 cups hulled strawberries
5-6 T sugar
2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
5 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 T (1 cube) butter, chilled, cut into about ten pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs half and half or milk
2 cups fresh whipping cream, whipped
1. For the fruit: Place half the berries in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Slice the remaining berries and add, then stir sugar into berry mixture. Allow to macerate while you make the shortcakes.
2: For the shortcakes: Preheat the oven to 425. In your food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse (or mix manually in a large bowl) flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until blended. To this, add the pieces of butter and pulse (if mixing manually, blend butter into flour mix with a pastry cutter) until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a large bowl.
3: Mix beaten egg and half and half. Pour over flour mix and with a rubber spatula, gently combine flour mix with egg/milk until large clumps form. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and lightly knead until it comes together (do not overwork).
4. Pat the dough into a round about an inch thick. With a knife, cut the round so that it looks like a 6-slice "pizza". Separate the "slices" and space out evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place in oven and bake until shortcakes begin to lightly brown, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven.
5. Allow shortcakes to cool several minutes, then assemble. To assemble: split a shortcake, place bottom half on plate and generously douse with spoonfuls of berry mix. Top with large dollops of whipped cream, then the top half of shortcake. Serve.
I'm so sorry that new stuff is not greeting you here of late. I have a lot to say, but no time to say it! We're getting ready for a trip and it's taking all I've got to get that together, plus get our house reasonably ready for company. Hold on, I'll be back someday soon, I promise!
In the meantime, let me show you some pictures of a little trip we took about a month ago. I wanted to tell you about this back when it happened, but I didn't have all the pictures I wanted then. Well it's weeks later and I still don't have the pictures but oh well. You can use your imagination!
This particular little trip took us to Dundee, Oregon, a small town out in the "wine country" located south and west of Portland. In Dundee is a potter who we had a special reason to go see. My MIL bought me a gift from the potter and I got to go pick it out! So off we trundled to Dundee to see the potter.
Dundee is very green. See? This is the driveway to the potters.
OK, OK //slaps own cheek// back to the matter at hand! What I really like about this potter's work is her use of texture. She uses cloth, wallpaper, objects, whatever she can to create really tactile patterns and sort of bas-relief effects. The lines of the objects themselves are simple and the colors are simple too, which shows the texture off even more.
I don't have pictures of the actual pieces I brought home. But here are some other pictures I took while there, so you can get an idea.
I had to hold myself back from buying too much. I got a lovely platter, perfect for cookies or a cheese plate, a pie plate, and a sort of oblong little plate that I've got pillar candles on right now. I had my eye on these bigger platters shaped like tropical leaves--I could totally envision a whole salmon or trout displayed on them. Someday I'll go back and get one.
And here's a picture of the potter! She's a super sweet lady. I am sorry this isn't the best picture of her--if she ever finds my blog I hope she forgives me!
If you're interested in the potter's contact information, email me and I'll pass it along.