last night we had a little party for our two year old at our home. i am still getting used to saying that! we had some close friends and family over with some margherita pizza pie, strawberry lemonade, and one epic doughnut cake with happy birthday candles. being ridiculously busy as of late, and dog tired too, this was a fantastic option for a meal and cake. it was simple and very yummy. i highly recommend leaving the cooking to others if you need to. and more importantly, stella loved it! she has been asking for "peezaa" all week. :)
you should have seen her last night. she was glowing. after each present she opened, she just had to have that item on. such a glamourista this one. by the end of her gift opening session, she was dressed fully class in her new dress, shoes, tutu, fairy wings, and a strawberry shortcake helmet. oh, and a new scooter to cruise around on the plaza this summer. you know, like all the cool big kids.
at the end of the night with stella in bed, i was in my jammies with my feet up reading my last post to my husband. when i got near the middle, i could not help but cry. it was one of those ugly put-your-hands-over-your-face-and-let-me-be cry. it was needed. reliving some of those moments two years ago are still painful today. they conjure up emotions that i have buried down. emotions coated in fear, mainly. i just don't want our family to have to go through that again with our second baby. but i cannot fail to mention how utterly blessed we are to have a healthy baby now. so, so blessed. that cannot be overlooked.
and then we watched some newborn videos of stella that just kept the tears streaming.
our little home party was such a success. we could see it on the countless smiles from our sweet girl. she sat up in her bed after her dada read her books saying, "bayday to you, lala!" she adores emphasizing how happy she is to us. when she is happy, so is the world. she beams and brightens everyone's day. she is our sunshine.
we are glad you enjoyed your special day, stella. you so deserve it!
happy birthday my darling girl!
here is the story of the night you were born. 'twas a humid evening two years ago. the best night of our lives, where you changed everything for the better.
...two years ago today we were in the middle of moving to the peaceful plaza from our downtown apartment on central street amid the hustle and bustle of busy downtowners. there were boxes of all sizes everywhere piling up in our new home, pictures yet to be hung, and chaos, or so it seemed, lurking around every whitewashed corner. moving is never fun until everything has found its new home, and your mama likes everything done "right now!" being very pregnant i had to be patient, and boy was it difficult for me! your dad and i had plans that evening and strict orders from my ob doc. to "take it easy" since i had been having pretty bad braxton hicks contractions ever since the start of our big move. they got so bad that i frequented the nurses office at work where she greeted me with a quiet bed and blanket as if i was a student. nurse jackie helped me so much! so no more lifting boxes and no more strenuous evenings spent unpacking.
to relieve some stress we planed on a little date: dinner and a movie. so classic of us. this was our go to combination before you came into our lives. now we stream movies online and get carry out for a treat. to be honest, it's more fun this way getting to cozy up at home with you by our side. you never want to miss a beat, little one!
after seeing bridesmaids (which you HAVE TO see my dear with all of your girlfriends one night during a wild and crazy slumber party) and laughing so hard it felt like i was going into labor IN the middle of the theater, we decided on a burger from one of our favorite local joints across the street.
side note to fellow readers: if you ever find yourself out and about on the plaza, hop over to blanc for some truffle fries and a kobe burger. i'm drooling as i type this...it's that wonderful.
mid bite in my big ol' burger i felt what can only be described as peeing my pants. over. and. over. and then over again! how embarrassing. this occurred outside, thank heavens, on their front patio. i am sure i left an alarming puddle below my chair. i never thought to look because i was enjoying my burger. obviously. but i did look up at your father, my eyes widening in disbelief, and told him that i just peed mah shorts!! yes, my little white shorts were soaked stella. i literally thought your strong feet must be kicking my bladder. but like the good eater i am, i continued and finished my meal, licking the salt off of my fingers after each bite. those fries are just too good to waste.
your dad and i did exchange a few, "ya think this is it?" words, and some, "could this be the real thing??" glances before walking home (uphill 2 blocks north and 3 blocks east) with newspapers covering my front and behind that we picked up along the way. i was one hot mess and tried not to make eye contact with anyone as
after getting home and talking with the doctor, we were in the car with a very disheveled hospital bag prepared so lovingly by your dad, and that's when the labor pains started to hit me with full force. they were strong and knocked me down just about every time. you sure know how to make your presence known, little one!
let's talk about this hospital bag your dad packed all by himself in about ten minutes, shall we? your sweet father had carefully prepared a skirt for me to wear during delivery in his panicked state of packing for us. he picked out my black stretchy pencil skirt from the business side of my closet, and assured me that he remembered the doctor saying i "could wear a skirt during delivery if i so pleased".
i think there was a bit of confusion mixed with delusion as he recounted this little fact to me. i could not believe he thought i would deliver you in a skirt! i remember laughing on the way to the hospital at the mere thought of me on a bed, legs spread, in a pencil skirt, having a baby. your dad thought he was being super helpful. he thought he was ahead of the game, prepping his wife for delivery. your dad would do anything for us. you need never to forget that.
in reality, i wore a standard light blue hospital gown with tiny flowers and got a epidural during a wild tornado siren as my bed faced the far corner of the wall. and to be honest, i was a tad scared because i had to face the shot all by myself. i really do not care for needles.
this was the evening of the joplin tornados, stella. i will tell you about this one day.
from that point on, your dad was there by my side every step of the way, coaching me and helping me through the pain. after only one hour of pushing (praise jesus) and playing tug-o-war with my nurse and a bed sheet, you stella vivienne, came into our lives with a faint and hoarse cry. you were five pounds and seventeen ounces of pure sweetness. because you was a preemie (5 weeks early!) i never got to hold you right away. that part stung a little, as you can imagine. i remember not taking my eyes off of you as they measured, weighed, and looked you over from head to toe. you were so beautiful. so perfect. before i had a chance to process what was going on, they wisked you away for testing in your new home for the next few weeks, the NICU. your dad went with you to make sure you were going to be alright. he did not leave your side, just like he stayed right by mine during delivery. he talked with all the doctors and came back to fill me in. he was very strong for us that evening.
throughout the course of the next few hours, i was in a daze. i could not believe i have just given birth to you so early. i kept feeling my stomach, your first home, and felt a void. a void i was not prepared for. i wanted to hold and see you so badly. i missed you and i felt confused by the medical terminology presented by the doctors at four in the morning. i hated the pressing down of my stomach every half hour, a heavy reminder that you were not in there.
i teared up at the thought of you struggling to breathe on your own, with numerous wires and tubes connected to your tiny body. i had so many questions. too many fears. and not enough sleep. it was the hardest thing i have ever done, and yet it has made me a tougher woman. but through all of this pain, i want you to know i felt a love so strong for you it trumped all my fears and squandered my swelling sadness. it grew in me by the minute as i waited to see you. to hold you. to touch you.
my love for you was the only thing i felt absolutely sure of that morning. it was the only thing that was true and honest end unconditional. a mama's love always wins. no matter what.
in the end, you recovered amazingly well. your dad read the little engine that could to you over and over from the rocking chair beside your bed. we could tell you loved it, and even gave it a new name, the little stella that could. your nurses helped you write us little notes, updating us about your first baths, large poops, and all your triumphs that went on during evenings when we could not be there. after a few days, we even got to welcome you into our arms. that was truly the best moment ever. i will never forget it.
i even got to eventually feed you in my arms, feeling your warm, fuzzy, tiny body nuzzle up to chest. i longed for that special moment for so long while you were healing. when i was finally able to hold and feed you in that NICU rocking chair i never wanted to leave. sometimes on the rare occasion, the nurses let me hold you for a little longer than was required. they could see the longing tears in my eyes, and with smile, they would close the curtain to let me breathe you in. the rebel in me hoped they would never come back and let me nap with you all afternoon.
i wanted to hold you forever in those fleeting moments, and tell you i will always protect you. so i did. as your mama, i sang to you and whispered that i would always be there for you. you were just so small and fragile. so tough and brave. such a fighter. a lover. the same little girl we know now. you have not changed one bit. thank heavens. :)
after a little over two weeks in the hospital, you got to come home with us. bringing you home was a dream. getting to show you your new room was surreal. snuggling with you in our bed was better than all of my christmases put together. ...and i really love christmas. it was so wonderful having you with us, at home, where you belonged.
although your birth story didn't really go as we had planed in our minds, it made us such a strong unit. nothing, little one, usually ever does go as you would originally want it to. there are always curve balls and bumpy roads that lead to happy endings. and there is always a reason for that.
your father and i grew so close during those weeks when you were in the hospital. we learned what it felt like to feel hopelessness and then unbreakable strength. we learned how important it is to appreciate what we have and to lean on one another when we need support. we learned how to love so hard until it hurt. we would not change it for anything. we are so blessed to have you and the way you came into our lives.
this little family, you included, went through so much during that month of may. being a mama to you has been the best part of my life. it has brought me closer to your dad with each passing day, and is the reason i now see the ever important little things as truly beautiful and worth more than most give credit for. you have taught me so much. stella vivienne, i cannot believe you're two, honey. i love you to the moon. happy birthday!
love, your mama
ever since getting our citrus juicer from this post, i have been making all sorts of lemonades, limeades, and citrus coolers. nothing beats juice made with fresh ingredients, no? after making some pasta for dinner this past week, i decided to use up the rest of our basil to make simple syrup before the delicate leaves started to turn brown. it was the easiest thing ever. also, it's refreshing and alcohol-free. perfect for this mama bear!
just as the rain decided to sprinkle down that evening, i decided on a whim to add this syrup to my glass of fresh squeezed lemonade and it made all the difference. i will be switching this recipe up throughout the summer with different herb and citrus varieties. i am thinking about a rosemary grapefruit mocktail is in my future.
basil simple syrup
a handful of basil leaves
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
to prepare, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar, and add about a cup of very loosely packed basil. this will produce enough simple syrup for a over a dozen cocktails or mocktails, so adjust the measurements to 1/2 cup or less if you aren’t making many drinks. this simple syrup will go a long way. pour the leaves and liquid through a filter to strain out the basil, then cool the simple syrup and refrigerate. i plan on keeping mine for a week.
to made the lemonade, just follow my recipe above!
just a hint: i bet you could use this to make a granita or homemade popsicles as well.
so i had a dream the other night that this little one of ours was a wee gent. it was a very vivid dream, as most of my pregnancy dreams have been, which is a total trip.
i remember moving to a new home with spiders, biking to wal-mart uphill (of all places), running through a hot yoga studio, having to clean up glass, mowing grass, and swaddling our new baby boy. what a strange combination of events right? i am sure if i gave my dream to someone to analyze, they would not be able to interpret my award arrangement of thoughts. it's even funnier now to look back on because while i was dreaming it, everything made perfect sense! naturally.
we find out in two weeks if we are having a boy or girl. i find myself thinking about that moment all the time. we decided to find out in the room while viewing the black and white screen. i want to wave hello and say "i love you" to our itty bitty bundle once we find out. screw putting the gender in an envelope and taking it to a special place where we carefully open it over dinner. that's just not us. we want to find out as soon as possible...says the most impatient person i know. ahhem, yours truly. ;)
i am taking this as my cue from god that we are having a boy. i am putting it out into the world of the sacred internets and calling it. it's what i feel. i think my silly dream must have meant something. and if it's a girl, we will be just as thrilled. the only difference is that we our baby will already have a wardrobe, because you know we will be using stella's clothes as hand-me-downs. oh yes.
i couldn't resist these adorable items above from baby gap in the boys section. i am keeping them regardless if we will be welcoming a gal or boy. i just love all of it way too much.
i mean a gnome onesie? how flippin' cute is that!
yesterday was for the mamas.
it was for letting her sleeping in, with hopes that she lingers over the smell of freshly washed sheets well past 8 am.
it was for watching her walk barefoot in the park, after of course, eating a brunch of perfectly poached eggs outside while the birds sing her a lovely song.
it was for mid-day family napping on the couch with the hum of the radio playing in the background.
it was watching her kind eyes smile at the imperfectly perfect homemade cards, created so lovingly by her most favorite people.
it was a few new gifts, like a new summer dress picked out by her husband, and some spicy dill bloody mary mix. her favorite. you can find it here.
it was for nuzzling her nose in her baby's sweet rolls, and for tight, unexpected hugs around her bare legs from the little soul she helped bring into this world. ...for tight leg hugs from tiny arms have to be better than just about everything else.
and last, but certainly not least, it was for a long embrace and warm kisses from her husband, for it is he who helped make this grateful woman a mama.
because the most important thing a husband can give his children is abundant love for their mother.
this was my mother's day. and it was better than i could have imagined. a special thank you to my three loves for making it so wonderful. and just think, my next mother's day will be spent with one more to love and cuddle and nuzzle and more.