Four Jobs I've Had in My Life
1. Grocery store cashier
2. Video store cashier (in the above grocery store)
3. Copy editor
4. Creative marketing manager (my current job)
Four Movies I'd Watch Over and Over
1. Love Actually
2. Pretty in Pink
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Four Places I've Lived
1. Rochester, NY (and various towns around this city)
2. Geneseo, NY (for college)
3. London, England
(Yes, there are only three.)
Four TV Shows I Like to Watch
1. The Amazing Race
2. American Idol
4. Anything on the Food Network
Four Favorite Places I've Been on Vacation
1. London, England (lived and worked there for five months, so this wasn't technically a vacation)
3. St. Lucia
4. North Captiva Island, FL
Four Websites I Visit Daily
1. Democrat and Chronicle.com
2. New York Times. com
3. Most of My Blogroll
4. Interrupted Wanderlust
Four of My Favorite Foods
3. Macaroni and Cheese
4. Jelly Beans!
Four Places I'd Rather be Right Now
1. On some warm sunny beach (it's 10 degrees here!)
2. Traveling in Europe
3. In bed, asleep
4. Somewhere eating Dippin Dots (Have you had them? They're awesome!)
I won't tag anyone, but if you feel like doing this meme, let me know so I can read your answers.
I haven't been in that store in over a year, despite having to buy shower presents for numerous friends and coworkers. If you're dealing with infertility, there is no more depressing place on earth, and there came a point over a year ago when I decided that enough was enough. I attended most of the showers I was invited to, although those days always ended with me returning home to sob my eyes out once the showers were over (and sometimes I didn't even make it home before the tears began to flow). But I couldn't go into Babies R Us. I had friends do my shopping for me, which they so generously offered to do. They wrapped the gifts for me too, so I wouldn't have to see the tiny outfits, the cuddly blankets, and mysterious playtime contraptions I thought my husband and I would never get the chance to put together for our own child. And I went to my friends' showers, complete with aritificial happy face, and endured three to four hours of pre-maternal glow. I was happy for every single one of them, but inside I was dying.
On Friday night, my husband and I went to buy a shower gift there. It marked the first time I had been there in over a year, and the first time since finding out about my own pregnancy. We printed the registry, found the gifts we were purchasing for the mom-to-be... and then we ventured over to the cribs to take a quick look. We only stayed in the store for a few more minutes, neither of us quite ready to make the transition from infertile couple to a couple possibly welcoming a baby in six months' time. And then we left. But that trip to that store in all its over-the-top pastel cuteness marked a milestone for me. I'm not infertile anymore, despite what my brain continues to tell me. I'm 14 weeks today, and officially in my second trimester. The miscarriage rate drops to something like 1 or 2% in the second trimester, and as far as we know, everything with the baby is fine. Babies R Us isn't the 10th cicle of Hell for me anymore. And while we're not ready to spend any significant time in that store just yet, I'm hopeful that in a few months, we will be.
If you read this blog often, you know I'm about as liberal as they come. I'm obviously pro-choice, and I don't believe anyone (or any state, South Dakota be damned) has the right to tell women what to do (or what not to do) with their bodies. And being a feminist, I believe that women should determine when they're ready to have children, and not cave to underlying societal pressure that basically says that once a woman hits 30, her ovaries have shriveled up and died anyway, so why even bother trying.
But my reaction to this story has surprised me, because while I don't think this woman's decision was wrong, per se, I think it is questionable at the very least. And I think more was at stake in this story than just "grandma gives birth to 13th child."
First of all, at my clinic, the largest one in the city where I live, the doctors won't even attempt IVF on a woman over 42 years of age. This is due to extremely low success rates, and other factors as well. It seems to me this woman's doctor created a "science project within a science project," as if to prove to the world that IVF could be done successfully on a woman who is a likely a card-carrying member of the AARP. Should this become a more common practice, now that's it's been done at least once? I don't know.
Second, I think my reaction to this story would be slightly more favorable if this baby was the woman's first child. If she had married later in life, or struggled for years and years with infertility, and finally had her dream of becoming a mother fulfilled. But that's not the case here. This woman has 12 (now 13) children! Her oldest is 40! Why on earth would anyone want 13 children? It's not like she needs them to work the farm or something.
I have more questions that I have answers. So, I'll throw this out there: what are your thoughts on a 62-year old woman getting pregnant via IVF and giving birth? Is a woman ever too old to be a mother?
1. The in-between stage sucks.
I think I'm officially at the point where neither my former pants/jeans nor my former work shirts/sweaters fit anymore. Some of the sweaters and shirts still "fit" per se, but make me look like the office skank. The problem here is that maternity clothes don't fit either. I don't yet have the belly to support the pants, and the shirts are too big as well, despite my boobs which have grown to the size of small planets. I have a few low-rise maternity pants that I wear for work, and these fit okay, but shirts are a real problem. Luckily, I work from home two days a week, so I only need to put together three work outfits a week, which is convenient, since three is the current number of clothing items that actually look decent on me.
2. Pregnant women have scary baby dreams.
At least I think I read this somewhere. Last night I had a dream that I was sitting on a bench in a park, and someone came up and shot me in the abdomen and the baby died. Saying that I woke up in a massive panic doesn't quite cover it. Luckily, I discovered that I had not been shot. Interpretations anyone?
3. The baby eats my brain sometimes.
I am normally an extremely anal-rententive person. I remember everything. Everything. Just ask my husband. However, I'm now forgetting things like you wouldn't believe. I've cooked things in the stove and then forgot to turn it off...for hours. This has happened twice.
4. I'm eating weird things.
Prior to getting pregnant (although "getting pregnant" doesn't quite cover IVF, does it? Hmmm... "prior to the science experiment which resulted in my pregnancy" sounds better) I didn't eat candy. Ever. If I wanted to snack, pretzels and popcorn were my thing. Now I'm funneling jelly beans (Jelly Belly-ha! ironic, huh?-and Starburst jelly beans to be exact) as if they were going to be my last meal on earth. Bizarre. Oh, and macaroni and cheese too.
5. I have developed an addictive personality.
I suppose "developed" isn't quite the right word, since that implies that this is something new. Let's say my addictive personality has magnified three-fold. As I mentioned, we have rented a doppler so we can listen to the baby's heartbeat at home whenever we want. Well, so addicted are we that my husband and I call it "crack." As in, "are you up for some crack tonight?" Then, we whip out the doppler, throw some ultrasound gel on it, and give it a go. The best part about it is that I can now find the baby's heartbeat in seconds.
The news has shown children visiting the zoo taping little drawings to Genny C's pen, expressing their sorrow over the loss of her baby. People have been interviewed saying what a loss the baby elephant is for the community. And zoo officials are upset because they expected the birth of the baby elephant to draw record numbers to the zoo this spring, as attendance has been dropping steadily over the years.
And therein lies my problem with zoos, and other such venues that place animals in the role of "entertainment." Not only are the psychological effects on these animals extremely detrimental to their wellbeing, but also animals such as elephants and giraffes and other creatures unaccustomed to harsh winters (because they should be living in their native habitats in warm Asia and Africa) are forced to brave frigid winters where the temperatures with the wind-chill added in are often below zero. According to this article, zoos in other cold weather cities such as Detroit have decided not to force their elephants to deal with cold weather, and did the humane thing by sending their elephants to live out the remainder of their lives to a sanctuary in California.
What's driving the "animals as entertainment" business, and what is preventing zoo officials here in my city from doing the humane thing and sending Genny C, and the other elephant here to a warmer climate is the almighty dollar. Genny C wasn't "aritifically inseminated." She was bred, forcibly, to produce a baby elephant to increase the traffic and therefore the money coming into the zoo. Because everyone knows there's nothing cuter than baby animals, and a baby elephant is something special. My zoo's officials were banking on a windfall at poor Genny C's expensive, without ever considering the sad fact that of all the forcibly bred elephants at zoos around the world, most have resulted in stillbirths. Yet when these magnificent creatures are allowed to mate and breed freely in the wild where they belong, stillbirths rarely occur.
My point is this: animals used as entertainment, whether they be in zoos, or circuses, or marine parks is morally and ethically wrong. Breeding animals forcibly for money-making purposes is deplorable. Genny C is carrying her dead baby elephant inside her. While zoo officials contend she is exhibiting no strange behavior, and is eating and seemingly doing well, I don't buy it. Elephants are extremely intelligent. Genny C knows that her calf is no longer living. What she doesn't know is that she never should have been put in the situation she's currently enduring in the first place.
So I bought him two cards (one from me and one from the cats-yes, we're those kind of people), but I wanted to bake him something as well. So I made these Cake Cookie Cutouts, which are..you guessed it...sort of like a cookie, in that they're small and relatively thin, and sort of like a mini cake because they're light in texture and not crisp. My lovely Kitchenaid mixer made these a breeze to make. And Ramona and I have the exact same one!
Please excuse my horrible photography.
Cake Cookie Cutouts
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1.5 cups sugar (I used Splenda for Baking)
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 2/3 cup flour
1.5 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1.5 cups chocolate chips (optional, and I omitted)
Prehead oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 13x9 inch pans
Cream butter, and then add sugar and beat mixture for about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and both extracts.
Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately to egg/butter batter, stirring by hand or using the low speed of mixer. Stir in chips.
Divide equally between pans and bake for 15 minutes, or until edges are brown and cookie cakes spring back when touched.
Let cool on a wire rack. Then, turn out cakes* onto racks.
*Just ignore the chunks taken out of the cake on the right. At some point during the cooling stage, those accidentally fell into my mouth.
Take your cookie cutter, and cut the cake into shapes. Then, frost and decorate.
This is a quick and easy treat to make, and my husband said they were yummy.
This is moving-in day. August 1994. I'm on the right, and my best pal Jenny is on the left. We've been friends since first grade, and decided to room together our freshman year. That didn't turn out to be such a good idea, and this photo was the last known time we were within two feet of each other. Kidding! We're still pals, but the story of our inability to live in the same room together (I am HARD to live with, people) is a tale for another post.
Oh, and this is also the last mental image my mother had of her daughter as she merrily drove back home at the end of the day. No worries, right?
And this is me a few months later, during the red hair stage. I also have the eyebrow ring in this picture, although it's barely visible. Note the tights I'm wearing. Oh dear.
Here's me home for the weekend, this time sporting black hair. This photo also represents the first time my grandparents saw my eyebrow ring. I can't decide if my grandma is wagging her finger at the ring, or at the wee little brain inside her granddaughter's head that made her decide to pierce her face.
Now I'm on my way to a Cure concert in Pittsburgh. I'm shown here with my friend Kelly (Karrie and another friend from college also made the trip). We taped that lovely sign to the back of my 1989 maroon Chrysler LeBaron before we began the four-hour drive. Ah, youth.
And finally, the most awesome pair of shoes I've ever owned: silver hologram Doc Marten boots, purchased from the three-floor Doc Marten Department Store in London, where I spent three weeks taking a course my last year in college. As you can see, I wore these boots under my gown the day I graduated from college. Words cannot describe how much I love these boots. I still have them. Unfortunately, they don't quite fit under the restrictive canopy of "business casual." I know you're envious. If I didn't have my very own pair, I would be too!
And if you're interested, I recorded my mom's "Don't you want to be pretty???" outcry and added it here. Karrie thought you should hear my interpretation of the pain and agony in her voice. Poor mommy.
Some of the facts people have given him are pretty entertaining. One person said she taught 20 schizophrenics to do the Electric Slide (she worked at at group home). Another person said that for her high school prom, she and her friends and their dates put on their formal wear, pinned on flowers, posed for pictures their parents were snapping, then got into the limo, stripped off their gowns and tuxedos, changed into jeans and t-shirts, and went to an ACDC concert instead.
So this little exercise got me thinking of what I would contribute as my interesting, unique fact if I was participating. My tidbit isn't so much a fact, but more a funny story. Here goes.
If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know that I was raised in a very tight-knit, conservative, Italian family. I spent 13 years attending Catholic schools (kindergarten through high school), and was basically what you'd call a square. I didn't drink or smoke. I did well in school. I was editor of my school newspaper, extremely bookish, and had a good group of friends who were into drama club, band, and other such wholesome activities. I dressed, when I wasn't in my school uniform, or completely ensconced in the head-to-toe wardrobe necessitated by my high school's dress code, in what you might call "early 90s preppy." My sweaters came from L.L. Bean. My shoes were Docksiders or penny loafers. My hair was long, about to my elbows, when I wasn't curling it with a curling iron (*shudder*). I was a good girl.
Then I went to college. Within the first month I was living away from home, I had my hair chopped into a stacked bob (shorter in the back, longer in the front). It reached only as far as my ears. Then I dyed it red, then purple, and then black. And I had a very well-tattooed man pierce my right eyebrow. I told my mom about none of this. And then I went home in October for fall break.
My mom was startled at my appearance, but she didn't seem overly alarmed. That first day I was home, she made me dinner. Talked to me about my classes. And I thought to myself, "Wow! She's handling this so well," (although I probably secretly hoped she wouldn't). That night, I went out with some of my friends. I came home late, after midnight, to find my mom, who usually goes to bed between 7 and 8pm, sitting in the dark at our kitchen table, head in her hands, crying her eyes out. I thought someone had died.
She looked up at me and sobbed, "Don't you want to be pretty???!!!!???" To this day, this story makes me laugh every time I think about it. For my mom, nothing could be worse than a daughter who went to school looking like the poster child for Future Librarians of America and who came home looking like a disciple of Marilyn Manson. My mom didn't realize I was the same person I always was on the inside (albeit more enlightened to the world outside the artifical one constructed by my upbringing), and that I had just done what many kids did upon leaving home for the first time.
My mom got over her shock eventually, once she realized that my new look hadn't meant that I'd joined a santanic cult. And I grew out of my goth phase slowly. But I still have a teeny, tiny scar where my eyebrow ring used to be, and each time I look at it, my mom's unintentionally hilarious one-liner* comes to mind, and that makes me smile.
*My sister Karrie asked, so here you are. My first audio post, comprised of my mom mourning my dyed hair and eyebrow ring.
PDA and I are not friends. When I see couples kissing in public I'm more likely to think to myself, "Rent a room," than "aww... how cute." My husband and I have these friends that are constantly sucking face whenever they're in the presence of others. To me, this is the equivalent of the two of them wearing tshirts that proclaim, in capital letters, "Look how much in love we are!!!" to the world at large. Yes, we get it. You're in love.
I attempted to figure out why this was. It may have something to do with the fact that I didn't have an example of a couple showing daily affection for each other growing up. My mom and dad divorced when I was two, so I don't remember them living together at all. And with numbers 2-4, I don't recall seeing much in the way of marital canoodling either. But to be fair, I was at my grandparents' house all the time, and having been married for over 40 years and having been very much in love for that entire time, I saw plenty of affection between the two of them.
My husband is much better at being affectionate and demonstrating his love for me than I am for him. Kissing in public isn't a big deal for him at all. He's always doing romantic things for me, including stuffing me in his car and driving me all over tarnation on our first Valentine's Day together nine years ago in an attempt to confuse me as to our real destination: The Lake House, a Bed and Breakfast on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, a place we would ultimately continue to visit several times a year following that first visit, and on whose pier he would propose four years later. He has a PhD in romantic love. I never made it out of elementary school.
So on Valentine's Day, I thought I should give expressing why it is I love him so much a shot. Simply put, my husband is the most patient, kind, and selfless person I know. In the times when I am at my worst (and especially in the last two years, there have been plenty of these), he makes it his mission to scrape me up off the ground and make me smile. We laugh together in a way I've never been able to with anyone before. He lets me get my way (which for some reason is very important to me. Huh, go figure) 99% of the time, and doesn't seem to hold it against me when "my way" turns out to be the "wrong way." He loves my family every bit as much as I do, and would do anything for them at any time. And he makes me feel loved, every single day of the year.
We've had plenty of difficult times, and a few where I honestly thought we shouldn't stay together. No marriage is perfect, and ours is FAR from it. But, I love him because of all the wonderful things he is, and in spite of all the things he isn't. Marriage isn't a la carte. It's a package deal.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
1. My mom was in town this past weekend to see my grandma, who is recovering from knee surgery. We spent Saturday together at my grandma's house. She's done a complete 180 with regard to her initial reaction to the baby news. She's now bouncing-off-the-walls excited. This Sybil-like reaction was a great improvement over her drill sergeant dictation of shower plans from last week, so I was really happy. She bought me flowers. She made me do two of the old wives' tale gender determination tests (both girl, as does my Chinese Gender Chart. Curious), and she was all a' chatter with questions, name suggestions (that's a popular one in my family these days), and things she wants to buy the baby. And the big news: she cancelled her six week summer vacation. That one shocked the hideous maternity jeans I've begun wearing right off me. #4 is apparently none too pleased about this, but luckily he was moping in front of the tv with a passive-aggressive "toothache" all day Saturday, so I didn't have to hear it from him. She said she's going to be on "baby watch" for the month of August, and there's no way she wanted to be thousands of miles away in the Canadian Rockies should something happen and I had to deliver early. Wow.
2. We told my dad, stepmom, and two little sisters the news yesterday morning. My dad was shocked and teary-eyed. My stepmom started to cry. My little sisters (ages 13 and 16) didn't quite know what to make of the news, but I believe were trying to process the fact that they'd likely be the youngest aunts in their school.
3. My bra-size doubled over the weekend. I am not kidding. While I'm not "showing" and if I had the masochistic desire, I could still squeeze my body into the sausage-like casing that now represents my former pants size, my upper body has expanded. Extensively. My form-fitting button-down work shirts are tight. My coworkers, who do not know of the news, must think I've had myself "augmented."
4. This baby now owns things. He/she is in possession of a bib from my cousin, a Beatrix Potter "baby's first year calendar" from my mom, and apparently a onesie purchased by my sister-in-law, which we don't have yet. It is strange, but I'm getting used to it.
5. I am exactly 12w1d today. Count that among such statements as "George Bush is a fine, intelligent man and a GREAT president" and "ohhh... do you have that sweater in pink?" as one of the things I thought I'd never say.
6. I cancelled the NT scan I was supposed to have this morning. To each of you who responded to my post on Friday, thank you. You helped me make up my mind that I need to focus my attention on being "fat and happy" (as Amy said) and not on worrying myself into a tizzy over potential problems with the baby. I feel really good about the decision, and I'm so glad to have friends, both "real" and "blog" who care enough about me to offer their honest opinions on the topic.
As the test date approached, however, I hit the internet and discovered that this test has a very high rate of false positives (indicating Down Syndrome, when in fact the baby ended up not having Down's at all). This scares me. And having the over-anxious, worrywart personality I know I have, receiving this kind of news, and spending the next few weeks or months freaking out daily over the "what ifs" would be unhealthy for both me and the baby. And my husband just might pitch me over a cliff as well.
I know I have to consider what I would do if I received a negative test result. Neither my husband or I want to do an amnio, given the potential risks involved for the baby, but an amnio would likely be the next step recommended by the doctor, so we'd know for sure whether the baby had Down's. Could we simply sit on a negative test result, knowing that it very well may be simply a false positive, for the next six months? I don't know.
We've been through so much to have this baby. If the baby does have Down's Syndrome we will love him/her just the same. People I've talked to are split right down the middle. Some have had it, some opted not to. It's such a difficult decision, and I wish someone would just tell me the correct choice to make. My husband doesn't want it done, knowing how I would react to a negative result. I was fine with his decision, but then I read this and it broke my heart, and it made me think that I would want to know, so that one of the happiest moments in my life didn't turn into one tempered with sorrow.
What would you do? I know there's no right answer.
I know my mom is worried about my health. She is worried how my Crohn's disease will react to not being on the medication that keeps me in remission. She's spent 25 of my 30 years worried about my health, and I've given her good reason to. I was a very sick little girl growing up...in hospitals more than I was in school, doubled over in pain whenever I'd get out of bed to walk to the bathroom. She's seen me at my rock-bottom worst, and in many ways, that's the image of my health she still has. This, coupled with the fact that my mom still sees me as 10 years old (she still asks me to sit on her lap, and signs her emails to me "love, mommy," a term I haven't used for her in over 20 years) make her reaction to the news more understandable. However, I guess I expected a degree of happiness to accompany the shock. And it didn't.
On Monday morning, I emailed her the link to the video we took of "the telling." Her reaction was more of the same: "I'm still in shock. It's going to take me awhile to get used to this." Then the madness ensued. Not 24 hours after hearing the news, my mom launched herself into full-on crazy mode with the following requests:
1. "I need a list of people you want to attend your shower by this weekend at the latest."
2. "Let's talk about places to have your shower. Also, I was thinking of Sunday, June 18th. I'd like to book it this coming weekend."
3. I'm already thinking about baby furniture-crib, changing table, dresser, playpen, highchair, car seat. All the stuff little critters need! You'll have to register."
4. "What color are you painting the nursery? Have you thought of themes? Disney animals (retch), wildlife, Raggedy Ann and Andy?"
5. "What kind of furniture do you want? Unpainted wood? Cherry?"
No friends, I am not exaggerating. I am not making any of these questions up. I am 11w3d and mommy dearest wants to plan my shower already. And the sad part of this whole thing is that I believe she's launched herself into crazy mode because she's going to be gone the entire summer on a six-week vacation with #4. And she wants my shower to take place before she leaves. But of course, she's not saying this, instead saying that "places book early" and "you'll want to have time to buy what you don't receive at your shower." My mom doesn't deal well in the truth.
So back and forth we emailed (admittedly not the best method of communication for a discussion of this nature) as I explained to her that it is WAY too early for me to even THINK about planning a shower. That I'm not even out of my first trimester yet, and that contrary to what many believe, a pregnancy does not always equal a baby and that I am just concentrating on doing all I can to ensure the baby stays put at this point. That my mind couldn't be further from nursery colors and cribs and shower guests.
Perhaps if I were "normal" and didn't go through the infertility gauntlet, my mind would be in a different place right now. But the fact is, I did go through it, I'm still scared every day, and I cannot make the transition yet to "planning for the baby" mode. I just can't. I'm making small strides in this area, especially now that almost everyone knows about the baby, but my head isn't where hers is yet.
She knows we did "fertility treatments," but that's all. I'm hoping this weekend when she blows into town and I sit her down and tell her exactly what we went through that she will chill the hell out. Because if she doesn't, I'm certain my head is going to explode.
So, I thought it was the perfect thing to make for brunch yesterday when we told my family about the baby. And best of all, you can make it the night before, stick it in the fridge, and bake it the next morning. I must say Andy's looked better than mine did (his had a nice brown color to it) and mine was a little less solid on the inside than his was. So I'd probably recommend cooking it for the full amount of time specified, or maybe even in a little more.
And, if you're interested in seeing a beautiful, bakery-quality loaf of bread, check out the Hearth Loaf photos here on Andy's blog. Or if ciabatta is more your speed, Andy takes you through the entire process, complete with photos, here.
Sky-high Brunch Bake
1 package (17.3 oz) frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1 cup ricotta cheese
Dash red pepper sauce
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped (could also use 1 cup chopped ham)
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese (could also use shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan)
1 cup chopped red peppers (could substitute roasted red peppers from a jar)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold puff pastry sheets and roll out one sheet with rolling pin to about an 11-inch square, and one to about a 12-inch square.
Line bottom and sides of greased 9-inch springform pan with 12-inch pastry sheet
Beat eggs in medium bowl with wire whisk. Reserve 1 TBSP egg, and set aside. Add ricotta cheese, pepper sauce, and spinach* to eggs in bowl and mix until blended.
Layer half each of the bacon, cheese, spinach mixture, and red peppers in pastry-lined pan. Repeat layers.
Place remaining pastry sheet over mixture. Fold and tuck pastry edges into pan to enclose filling. Pinch edges to seal.
Brush surface with reserved egg. Pierce pastry several times to form vents or slits, which will allow steam to escape during baking.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool ten minutes. Run small knife around edge of pan before serving.
*Blot, blot, blot that spinach before adding it in. Andy did the "blotting of the pumpkin" trick from Dawn's Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe, and I have to say it worked great. Thawed spinach is very wet!
Make-ahead instructions: Assemble as directed; wrap well. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, unwrap and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Aren't his pictures so much better than mine?
Yesterday didn't start out too well. For the past two days, I've had some pretty bad lower back pain, and I've been completely exhausted, all day long. While my husband and I were shopping for some supplies for our crafty baby project at Michael's yesterday, I had to leave him with the basket to go lay down in the car. All of a sudden I felt light-headed, really warm, and as if I were going to pass out. Luckily, my dear husband channeled his inner Martha and came up with a very creative way to break the news.
We came home, and after a few hours of rest I was feeling better. We set to work preparing for the brunch. I made a "Brunch Bake," a recipe my friend Andy sent me. It was a great recipe to use (and a hit this morning) because you can assemble the whole thing the night before, and then bake it in the morning. It's made with a puff pastry shell, ricotta cheese, spinach, red pepper, eggs, and some cheddar cheese. Here's a photo of it from this morning when it came out of the oven. I'll post the recipe soon.
Once I finished making the Brunch Bake and had stuck it in the refrigerator, we set out to work on our little project. My husband bought unfinished wooden hearts, and he painted each red. He bought a paint pen, and on each wooden heart, I wrote a word that represented the character trait of the person who would open it. For example, "Faith," "Generosity," "Wisdom," "Humor," and my grandma's read "Family Love."
Then, on craft paper, I wrote a little message to each person, describing their character trait. I placed the paper in little red boxes we bought, tied each with a ribbon, and attached the red hearts to each box. Then, we put them on the table in front of a placecard with each person's name on it, as we strategically wanted my grandma and great aunt sitting next to eachother for videotaping purposes (we videotaped "the telling" for my sister).
Everyone arrived (except my aunt and cousin, who couldn't come because my aunt was sick), and they took their seats. One by one, each person opened his or her box and read the personalized message aloud. When it was my grandma's turn, she opened her box and read the following:
"You show 5 children and 11 grandchildren the true meaning of family love in all that you do.
Each of you was given a personalized message indicative of a character trait we hope you'll share with your future niece, nephew, or great-grandchild.
Kristi is having a baby!"
My grandma immediately burst into tears and kept shouting, "I'm going to be a great-grandmother!!!"
My great aunt said, "I better start knitting!"
My great uncle said, "I didn't know we were coming over here for this!"
They were thrilled beyond belief. And seeing their reactions made this a little more real, as talk immediately turned to names, and cribs, and nursery designs, and work plans, all things my husband and I haven't even allowed ourselves to think about, much less discuss.
Later on, we called my mom and put her on speaker phone. We sent her the ultrasound picture, but just told her that she had to go on her computer and look at a "cool picture." So she did. And once she figured out what she was looking at, she was in complete and total shock. She kept saying, "I can't believe it!" I think it was registering that her life (which is very much travel-oriented with her 4th and horrible husband) is going to change dramatically if she wants to be an active part of the baby's life. She even said herself that it was going to take awhile for the news to sink in.
So now, at 11 weeks, everyone knows. Except my dad, and my coworkers, whom I don't plan on telling for awhile. It's a weird feeling. I have this degree of responsibility I didn't feel before. But I also got the distinct sense that this new baby is going to bring a degree of hope to each and every member of my family, but especially to my grandma. Her reaction was exactly what I wanted, and she was so, so happy in a way I haven't seen from her in years. She's having minor knee surgery on Wednesday, and she's been nervous about it for awhile. I know her spirits are lifted by the news, and that she feels she finally has something to look forward to. And that makes me feel really, really good.