Faith Hope Love

Flora creates piles of these everyday at daycare.

Pictures of Le Bud, her baby brother.

She, clearly, already loves him.

And has no doubt that he is going to love her.

“This is my baby brother, thinking about me and him.”

Sometimes she just calls him “the baby.”

“This is the dog rolling the ball to the baby.” Hence the arrows. “The baby is happy to be getting the ball.” Hence the heart, I guess.

Interesting that we have a dog, I think.

These pictures make my heart swell, unbearably. To have such tangible evidence of her excitement, of her willingness to love — I can’t encompass in words how it amazes me.

I try to grasp it and hold it, hold it in my own swelling heart, without reservation, without hesitation.

I’m not always 100% successful.

Sometimes this tangible evidence of her love and excitement freak me right the hell out.

In Stephen King’s book Duma Key, one of the characters says (more than once), “God punishes us for what we can’t imagine.”

I know, Philosophy from Stephen King. My existential phenomenological psychologist husband is all *facepalm* right now.

But I don’t want to imagine breaking my daughter’s heart. Or, rather, imagine her heart breaking. If I put my mind to it, I can imagine it — although how I would explain something so terrible to a heart so open while my own heart is crushed and cracked and bleeding is, frankly, stunningly difficult to picture. All I can imagine is tears. And questions. Ones I couldn’t answer. I still don’t have answers from Gabriel’s death.

I want her carefree assurance that all will be well. I want to have no doubts —zero, nada — that the baby will be here and play with the dog and love his big sisters.

So, better not to think the worst. Better to believe in and have faith in a merciful God, like I do, almost all the rest of the time. Like, 98.9% of the time. I believe everything is going to be fine. I see myself saying, “Two girls and a boy” when someone asks about my children. (My head appends that slightly differently, but strangers in Target do not need to know that.)

Better to block off the darkness and turn to the light.

Random Thoughts: Pregnancy Ramblings

Yesterday, I came to the realization that I was heading out this Saturday for a few days of summer “vacation” — with exactly one pair of maternity shorts.

This necessitated a last-minute shopping trip to the mall. Fortunately, my MIL and SIL were both on the compound last night, and they were more than willing to take the girls for dinner and kick me out the door.

The prices are better at JC Penny maternity — way better. I got a cute pair of khaki capris for $11.50. A comparable pair at Motherhood Maternity cost $19.99 on sale. But Motherhood Maternity has cuter stuff, so I spent a little there, too. All-in-all, the trip cost me under $100 (I got shoes, too), and I’ll be able to get through the rest of the summer (and then-some) comfortably.


I say “vacation” like that because when you vacate with your children, it’s not really 100% relaxing. I’m pretty lucky; we go with my (rather extended) family, and share a place with my parents and sister, so there are plenty of bodies around to help out. But it’s still the day-to-day parenting stuff, only in a different location. It can get tricky, especially bedtime. An especial downer this year: no drinking for me. Pros: pools, my sister’s puppies, and Idlewild. Plus: did I mention my extended family? We’re talking, oh, roughly 100 members of the clan on the weekend. It thins out during the week. To about 50 of us. It my one chance a year to catch up with everyone, and it’s totally worth it.


(TMI ahead)

What’s one thing that no one adequately warned you about when it came to pregnancy? For me: it’s the poop thing. Things seemed to be going okay this pregnancy — moving a little more slowly than usual, but okay. But last week… well, let’s just say, I don’t really like prunes, but I have rediscovered their necessity for me during pregnancy. Since Le Bud is sitting lower than I have experienced, there are some tricky yoga-like moves I have to do to, uh, unblock certain things, too. Not while I’m actually on the potty, just to clarify.

I know God is great in all things, but the whole juxtaposition of certain parts in the womanly lower anatomy could have been designed a little better, IMO.

Making Pizza with Children

The experience of Saturday perfectly illustrates how different my two girls are. A lot of people tell me that raising a boy will be different, and I believe them, but as I mentioned before: raising Flora and Kate has by no means been a cookie cutter experience.

Since I was going out of town, I wanted to have dough for pizzas ready for dinner with my in-laws on Sunday. I figured it was something that the girls and I could do Saturday. There would be plenty of time for me to make the dough, clean up, and head to Erie at a reasonable hour. (I cut the shower time a little close.)

Making dough with Flora

F: “What’s that?”
M: “That’s yeast.”
F: What’s yeast?
M: Yeast helps the dough grow.
F: What’s that? Honey?
M: No, this is olive oil.
F: When do we add more honey?
M: We don’t need to add any more honey. Can you stir it a little more, please?
F: Why does it need honey?
M: Honey is for the yeast. No don’t touch that.
F: Why does the yeast need honey?
M: Because honey helps the yeast make the dough grow. Can you put that down?
F: Why is the flour two different colors?
M: Because one is whole wheat flour.
F: Why is it whole wheat flour?
M: Because mommy likes to use whole wheat flour.
F: Can I stir it?
M: Yes, just —
F: Ooops!
M (exhaling through nose): It’s okay, let’s just — hold on. Okay, never mind. Let’s use our hands to make a ball.
F (plunging hands into dough)
M: Don’t pull it apart, push it together.
F (still pulling dough)
M: Like, hold on, let’s just get it out of the bowl. No, not…
F and I wrestle with the dough — let’s call it kneading — and I finally get it shaped into a ball. I plop it into an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set the timer for two hours.

Making dough with Kate

M: Okay, first we add water, then the wine. Here’s the yeast. Go ahead and stir.
Kate slowly drags the whisk through the milky liquid, around and around.
M: Here’s the honey. I really like the way you’re stirring that, Kate.
Kate and I watch the whisk. ‘Round and ’round.
Flora takes the silence as an opportunity to say something.
F: When it is my turn?
M: You already had a turn, sweetie.
F: When is it my turn again?
M: You already made your dough. It’s Kate’s turn now.
F: I want another turn!
M: It’s Kate’s turn now.
Flora stomps once, and pouts. When I don’t respond, she wanders over to the kitchen table to occupy herself with some spin art.
I keep adding the ingredients to Kate’s bowl. I help her stir a little faster.
K: Why we stirring faster, mama?
M: We can stir faster now because we’re adding more stuff. Okay, it’s time to add the flour now.
I add the flour, and help Kate stir it into the liquid. She is so focused, so quiet. After a bit, I encourage her to use her hands, but she doesn’t like the stickiness too much. As it gets less sticky, she squeezes it more. I rinse out her bowl so we can put the dough in it to let it rise. She pounds gamely on her lump. Again, call it kneading. We shape the dough into a ball. Kate asks to wash her hands.

I love Flora’s inquisitiveness. I love Kate’s focus. I admire their ways of being in the world — it just strikes me, in instances like this experience of making dough with them, how dissimilar they are. It happens, too, when they bend their heads together over a shared task or book: my brunette, my blonde. How two such different girls came from the same place is wondrous to me. And it makes me want to meet Le Bud even more, to revel in the ways he will be different, too, yet again.

Wow Wow Weekend

For as busy as this weekend was, it seems terribly relaxing in retrospect. Although I am tired (bed too late, up too early), I feel refreshed.

It all started Friday at the IKEA Pittsburgh happy hour for Burgh Moms. It was a lot of fun to see familiar faces I have been missing, as well as meet some new people. I really am going to have to update my Burgh Moms page — Twitter handles and all.

Saturday was a bit of a scramble up until I left for Erie around 2:30 p.m. I will have to expand on this later, but: my girls have two distinct ways of helping me make pizza dough.

The two-hour ride to Erie was bliss. It has been a long time since I made this drive in a car by myself, and for the most part I am okay with that. But it was nice for once to not have to police and/or throw snacks at the back seat. The soundtrack was M.I.A. and Rihanna, uncensored.

I then spent the next, oh, six hours laughing my ass off with/at my best friends M and N, and eating good food. It was lovely.

Sunday, I didn’t get up until 9:10 a.m. I cannot tell you the last time that happened. And I’m sure it’ll be years before it happens again. (And I’m totally okay with that.)

And then H and her munchkins (can you call a 7yo a munchkin, still?) came over for brunch, nicely hosted by my parents, who also loaded me up with food to take home.

And I was greeted at 3 p.m. by three very excited people when I finally arrived. My house was clean, and so the fact that the girls weren’t dressed didn’t even faze me. Dan informed me they were all “lounging”. Okay, then.

Then, my in-laws came over, and we served homemade pizzas, salad, fruit salad (courtesy of my SIL), and dessert (courtesy of my MIL). Several names were proposed for Bud: George, Gary (I think BIL-IL was joking), Luke (the girls’ choice), Georgio, Umberto… oh, lots. Dan and I kept our own council. Truth be told, I’m not sure we’ve decided yet. I’d just as soon wait to meet Le Bud to pick. Although I should be a list together. Maybe.

Dan said later that he wished I had picked a different weekend. “The timing just wasn’t great.” I laughed. “Honey, if I waited for the perfect timing, I’d never go.” He admitted that was true too. And gave me a kiss. “I missed you,” he said.

I missed him, too. And my own munchkins.

Still, those four hours in the car…. Sigh. Ah, well. At least I’ll have the memories for a while!

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Pittsburgh has a lot of fun stuff going on at any given time.

You can go to a ball game, a museum, an amusement park. You can usually find a fun Tweetup — or even create your own.

And I am sitting out a lot of this good stuff. There was a tailgate party last Saturday that up until last Wednesday I had planned to attend. Because tailgate parties are fun! And I like all the people who were going, and I don’t get to see them nearly enough as it is! And the kids would have had a great time.

And I didn’t go. I didn’t go to the funnel cake party or the Hebrew National picnic, a few weeks ago, either.

I’m not going to my work picnic at Kennywood. And I love me some Kennywood. I haven’t been in two years!

The thought of getting my pregnant self and my two children out of the house by a certain time, often with some kind of food to contribute to an event, and meet up with a bunch of people at a certain time — people whom I like very much at events that would be FUN FUN FUN — is simply beyond my ability right now.

Actually, that’s not true: I can do it. I am choosing not to. In an effort to minimize my stress, I have had to just say to myself: “Self, you must chill out.” And I am right.

While these people are fun and these events are fun, I would not be having fun. It’s not fun to be physically challenged as I am right now and have Kate in a public place. It is super-duper stressful. And although I know I have people who can and will take on Kate at these events, I would feel bad for allowing that. (My husband will be among the people telling me I should let that go.)

This is like the Lenten Twitter fast, only in reverse. That is, I am interacting with all these people on Twitter, but not IRL* (as we say on the Interwebz).

But at least I get to go to this tonight.

And while I am very sad to be missing what is sure to be the party of the year, and an event by a blogger whom I much admire and a tweep with whom I much enjoy “talking”, I have a long overdue dinner planned with my very best friends from childhood, N and M. If it were here in Pittsburgh, we would totally be hitting #helloSAL, but the three of us are meeting in Erie instead.

If I am lucky, I will even get to schedule a coffee date with a high school friend, H.

On the bright side, I am driving up to Erie ALONE. I am going to have a nice, long dinner with M and N. In a restaurant that doesn’t even offer mac’n’cheese on the menu. We will probably stay for coffee and dessert. And I will sleep in (until 8:30? 9 a.m.?) on Sunday. And then I will drive home to my children and my no doubt frazzled husband, and host dinner for my in-laws. (Homemade pizza!) And life will go back to normal, or what normal is for now.

And maybe I will miss a few more fun things, but I will get to go to a few, too.

And then, November will come, and we’ll have a whole new normal to get used to.

Bring it.

*In Real Life.

Snippets from an Ultrasound

“That’s a penis!”
Sonogram tech: “Nope, he’s right. That’s a penis.”


“He’s hung like a horse!”… “I always wanted to say that.”


“Can you put a couple of exclamation marks after that?” [“That” being “BOY” on the ultrasound image.]
“You are so 12 years old.”


“That’s the hand that is going to throw the game-winning touchdown in a Super Bowl.”
“Yeah, because you’re so athletic.”


“You have to understand, I wasn’t surprised.”
“You weren’t?”
“You didn’t read my blog yesterday, did you?”


“It doesn’t really matter. It’s just… raising a boy!”
“I know. I feel the same.”

It’s A…

…boy. (That is not actually Le Bud’s peep. Due to lack of smart phones at this point, I have to resort to old-fashion technology like scanning. Haven’t gotten around to that yet. Source.)

I confess to being a little giddy.

Number 1: I was right.

Number 2: As Dan put it, the prospect of raising a boy is exciting. Not that raising two girls has been a cookie-cutter experience in the least. But, I don’t know, something about having a son is exciting for us. (And around the blog-o-sphere, parents of boys roll their eyes and think, “You don’t know what you’re in for, RPM.”)*

Number 3: Le Bud is looking good. I swear the doctor nearly skipped into the room to declare, “Your baby looks fantastic.” He is measuring well, and all the requisite parts are healthy. After some of the fun we’ve had with ultrasounds in the past, this was all very good news. Plus it took under an hour, which is pretty impressive.

Big sigh of relief. And continued deep breathing and prayers all around!

*Yes, I know, another boy, another son. Only let’s focus on us getting to raise him this time around. This may be part of my giddiness: Hope.

Week 20: 50/50

Technically speaking, I am halfway through this pregnancy. In reality, I probably have about 18 weeks left (before inducing).

When I say it like that, “18 weeks”, it sounds like a terribly short time. At the same time, though, this pregnancy, for various and sundry reasons, seems to be taking forever. I’m so glad to finally be at 20 weeks. Now that I can feel Le Bud move more, it’s a little less anxiety producing. Also: dreams help. And emails from my mom.

Tomorrow we are going to get the Level II ultrasound. I’m actually pretty excited, primarily because we will be finding out how outnumbered Dan is going to be (as long as Le Bud cooperates).

Now before I tell you my guess, I want to make something abundantly clear: I don’t care if this baby is a boy or girl. As long as Bud comes into this world safe and sound, with 10 fingers and 10 toes, and is strong and healthy (does that sound like I’m asking a lot?), I could care less what is between his/her legs.

As my MIL put it succinctly last night: “Girls scream and boys break things.” In other words, both sexes have their, oh, let’s call them downsides.

Okay? Okay.

I think I’m having a boy.

I knew Gabriel was a boy. I knew Flora was a girl. With Kate, I did not know, and I attribute that to not being 100% sure when she was conceived, plus her being a bit of a surprise/unplanned, plus not being sure what my heart wanted her to be (does that make sense? In other words: Gabriel was a boy, but he didn’t make it; Flora was a girl and she did.)

But since the + pregnancy test, I have felt sure that Le Bud is a boy. I don’t have a thing on which to base that feeling. Unless you count timing (I can tell you when Bud was conceived, and I was, um, having a lot of fertile fluid at the time) and little indications like: When I was pregnant with Gabriel, I had horrible breakouts, especially in the first trimester. The only thing that worked was Noxema. Same thing this time around.

I could, of course, be completely off base. I have a 50/50 chance of being wrong. Dan has done nothing but pick girls’ names this time around, and I don’t like a one of them. I can’t seem to find a girl name I like right now. Which would be a clear indicator that I am having a girl. (Crazy pregnancy reasoning: I haz it!)

Flora thinks Bud is a boy; Kate thinks Bud is a girl. Someone’s going to be disappointed.

But, given all the conditions I’ve listed above, it’s not going to be me.

Meatless Monday: Pizza, plus Protein Problems

I didn’t realize how much I missed making my own pizza dough until I stumbled onto a new food site: The Smitten Kitchen.

It all started (again) on Twitter, with a call for zucchini recipes. @ClumberKim sent me a link to this one, and I was hooked. It’s so pretty!

Smitten Kitchen’s really simple recipe is, just as Deb promises, really simple. I used the updated version because it appealed to me a bit more. I just doubled the ingredients, and used some whole-wheat flour because I like the texture of whole wheat dough.

3/4 cup warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)

1/4 cup white wine

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (about one package)

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour


Cornmeal for sprinkling

Flour for dusting counter

Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.

Straight from the Smitten Kitchen: “If you’re like me and always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night, wash the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.

“[Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it’s good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn’t.]

“Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl.”

I divided the dough into two balls, both of which I wrapped well in plastic wrap and put in a baggie. One of these I put in the refrigerator, and the other I froze. They were in their respective cold places for a week before I actually made the pizzas.

When making the pizza, roll out the dough on a floured surface. This recipe made two 10- to 12-inch thin crust pizzas. Use cornmeal on your pizza paddle or baking pan. I could have sprinkled some on the pizza stone in the oven, too.

Move the dough onto the paddle or baking pan. Top with your desired toppings.

Slide the pizza from the paddle to your preheated pizza stone, or just put the baking sheet in the oven as is.

Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool a couple of minutes, slice and serve.

Saturday for dinner, I made the kids a plain ole cheese pizza (which Dan also liked), and then made the goat cheese and zucchini pizza with my surplus of summer veggies and fresh farmers goat cheese. My CSA is partnering with a couple of local creameries this summer to deliver cheese, and holy cats — fresh cheese is so, so tasty.

I had made a recipe similar to the latter pizza using ricotta cheese instead of goat cheese (and a store bought pizza dough that was too dough-y for me). I liked the ricotta better; the flavor was much milder. The goat cheese overwhelmed the pizza (in my opinion). You have to use a bit more of the ricotta (say 6 ounces instead of 4).

Otherwise, as with all my favorite recipes, you’ve got a palette for your favorite toppings. I’m curious to see if it will hold up to meat toppings (for my husband and BIL-IL). I don’t see why not!


The nut aversion continues, and it has expanded. Now I don’t like eating any nuts (cashews, almonds, etc.) or nut butters. Soy products turn me off, but don’t upset my stomach the way nuts do. The only protein sources this baby craves are cheese and eggs. Greek yogurt has been another acceptable discovery. The way I crave eggs scares me a little bit. I made egg salad recently (using about five eggs), and I ate nearly all of it in one sitting. On top of whole grain crackers.

Fortunately, I seem to be craving plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as all the cheese and eggs. High on the list, too, are avocados. On Sunday, I had a lunch of cheese (more farm fresh cheese!) and crackers, plus half an avocado and a tomato. It was heavenly. Between the four of us (well, and Le Bud), we polished off 1/2 a pound of cheddar from the Keswick Creamery.

I’ve also turned to Quorn products to take the place of soy products in my diet. I still eat some soy-based meat substitutes, but they just don’t appeal the way they used to.

These soy and nut aversions feel weird to me, but I am “listening to my body” and avoiding them. I hope it doesn’t mean anything like a baby with nut or soy allergies down the line. I really don’t need life with another baby to be quite that interesting!

Also, Le Bud seems to like ice cream and chocolate just fine. Ultimately, I’m sure we will get along!

Along for the Ride

Last night, all of my dreams (it seems like I had about three) had the exact same theme.

Each time, I was going on a trip somewhere, usually with a group of people and usually flying to a foreign country (France, Germany, Japan, I think).

And each time, things were quite a bit out of my control. There were late flights, and long lines and lost luggage, and running through terminals looking for the right gate. Usually my mom or dad or Dan was with me telling me that things were going to be okay, even though everything seemed very stressful.

Now, I’m no dream therapist or anything, but I’m pretty sure my subconscious was releasing a lot of feelings I was having about my pregnancy. The feelings of being overwhelmed and not in control (I am overwhelmed, and not in control, let’s face it). At the same time, it was reminding me, through the presence of very important people in my life, that it was going to be okay.

This is part of an e-mail my mom sent the other day:

“Having a baby should be a joy and wonder. You had it with Gabriel. Now the stress and worry over your pregnancies have taken over that feeling. In my prayers I talk to God and ask Gabriel to help you feel the peace and joy of new life and bringing another little baby into our family. Take a deep breath and ask for God’s protection. Ask Him to take the stress and deal with it because you can’t. With all that you have going for you in your life you want to be at the top of your game. Your girls and Daniel need you.”

I woke from the dreams this morning surprisingly unstressed. It was like receiving a reminder that sometimes in life, one is just a traveller.

And I just have to go where things take me.