Monday, February 25, 2013

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Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

If I could describe things right now in one word it would be overwhelming. A third of the way through the semester and I am still worried about managing it all. Cati broke her collarbone close to four weeks ago and that was scary. Luckily, she is almost 100% healed and I am looking forward to planning the girls a very delayed birthday party. Despite all the feelings of being overwhelmed, I have been in search of moments of happiness that help drive me through the long days. One of those moments came when I made these cookies. Cati helped mix the batter, spoon out dough, and rolled each cookie in powdered sugar. Tantrums were suspended for an hour and I was able to remember how awesome of a kid Cati has become. The tantrums of a three-year old are so much worse than the tantrums of a two-year old and it was wonderful having a moment of clarity and simply being with my daughter. Then, it was great sitting on the floor with her and eating these soft cookies together.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Source: Two Peas and their Pod
Yields: 24 cookies

 1 box red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

Take about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and form into a ball. Roll the ball in powdered sugar until fully coated.

Place cookie dough balls on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are set and cookies begin to crack.

Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

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Elina: Twelve Months

Dear Elina,

Happy first birthday little bug. Officially, I can say you are a toddler now, but in many ways you are still a baby. Or at least you still feel and look like a baby to me because I see the two-year difference between your sister and you everyday. There is so much she can do, think, and say that you cannot yet. For as much as I complain about time having passed too quickly with you (it has), I should also say that I have been able to appreciate your baby-ness.

The greatest lesson you have taught me over this past year is that I can actually enjoy being a mother to both a newborn and a young infant. It took becoming a mother a second time and being your mother for me to realize that new motherhood does not have to be scary or traumatic. For that, I thank you. Being your mother has been filled with redemption and has been an opportunity for me to make peace with the dark shadows of my experience of the early days with Cati. In a way, you gave me closure and, again, I thank you. You have freed me.

I spent some time today looking through pictures and I was shocked by the clarity in which I remember the context of every photograph. The pictures of your first year of life are nowhere near as numerous as those of your sister's, but the ones I do have are more purposeful. Perhaps the reality is that I was more present during this time with you and needed less pictures and I needed more pictures of your sister because I felt like I was roaming around in the fog until she was about nine months old. Who knows? Just remember that it is not about the number of pictures, but the content and meaning of those pictures.

What struck me the most about looking through the pictures was how much you have changed. Your sister has basically had the same face since she was four months old, but not you. I look at the pictures and know it is you because of the features, but if I did not know better, I would think you a different baby. Your face has elongated and thinned out and you have become more petite and pixie-like. You have always been a beautiful baby, but you have gotten prettier with age.

This past month you have gone from taking steps to walking. You have become more expressive and have shown us how much you do understand even without words. You have turned into the most affectionate and cuddly baby and I live for those hugs and big wet kisses. You have truly come to enjoy your sister’s company: every morning you wake up and immediately go to the corner or your crib to look out for her, you love to lay down on her, and oftentimes you are her little shadow. The feeling is mutual too and my favorite memory from this month was one night when we were driving home and, not able to reach you with her hand, Cati reached out to you with her foot. The giggles that escaped both your mouths were the most beautiful sounds. Seeing the love you two have for one another feels like the greatest accomplishment I can make as a parent.

This past year we went on a journey together. We have both grown and changed. You have made me a better person just by letting me be your mother. I have seen you go from being a helpless newborn to a happy toddler with spunk. I knew if I could make it through this year with you, we would be set for life. There will be more difficulties, challenges, and changes ahead, but it was this first year together that scared me the most. We both did it. I need to take this lesson from both of you to heart: you both trust me with your lives, so I should start trusting in myself too.

Thank you Elina-bug for this past year. For choosing me to be your mother and your imperfect guide through this imperfect world.

Love always,

Friday, February 15, 2013

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It's an hour past Cati's birthday, February 14. My oldest "baby" has turned three and I find myself struggling with time. I want it to freeze, speed up, jump forward, jump backward. More than anything, I just want to feel like it's not slipping past me. I can still remember the day of Cati's birth and can still feel the raw pain of those first few months with her. I remember the joy I felt when she rolled for the first time, spoke for the first time, walked for the first time. I have all these fragments, these memories, that I can vividly recall and yet years have passed by and I am still left numb with the sensation that I missed something. Or worse, I did not enjoy something enough. The older my children get, the more bittersweet the milestone will be. Birthdays are those twilight days where one foot is stuck in the past and the other foot is ready to approach the future. On Cati's third birthday I looked at pictures from the past year. My, how she's changed and grown! I also, however, began to wonder about the future; what changes await us? How much will she change in the year to come? And again, time, you tricky thing. You've created a day where I struggle with staying present, with simply enjoying and celebrating not just a birthday but a birthgiving day.

Happy third birthday sweet Catarina. The past three years with you have been a beautiful journey, from newbornness to unprompted I love yous. Please forgive your mom for making a wonderful thing like your birthday this profound, philosophical event. Here's to continuing this journey together and to lots of cake along the way.