77/365: Dorothea

This is the face of adoration and one of the many reasons Iris got an early Christmas present. She’d never seen a doll before, not until Thanksgiving when she saw her cousin Lyla’s collection of dolls.

Iris was entranced.

A face that is smaller than hers. A face she is allowed to explore with fingers of dubious intent. Carl and I both kept calling it Dolly until I got fed up with the lack of creativity. We named her Dorothea. I continue to call her Dolly, but at least I do it with a clear conscience now.

We’re all big fans of Dolly, but this is my biggest reason.

This, folks, is the face of pure delight.



76/365: Pulled Pork Pancakes


Carl makes the best mac’n’cheese and peanut butter and jam sandwiches (not snarking; I always skimp on the peanut butter and stop stirring the mac’n’cheese too soon, which leads to lumps), but pretty much I make everything else. This isn’t a bad division of labor since I enjoy cooking and by the time dinner rolls around I’m pretty happy to hand off the squirmy one and have myself some peace in the kitchen.

But Carl definitely influences the direction of our culinary adventures.

He saw this dish on a Food Network show and, despite my initial misgivings, made it sound delicious. Fluffy buttermilk pancakes! Lightly BBQed pulled pork! Bourbon syrup!

Clearly meant to be.

I found a copycat version here on I Am A Food Blog. Super simple, super easy to follow. We’d had pulled pork sandwiches last night, so I had the leftover pork ready to go this morning. It probably only took 15 minutes to pull the syrup and pancakes together (and if you’re curious, the syrup is really good. It smells strong while cooking down, but I’m guessing most of the alcohol cooks off because I don’t like bourbon and I really liked this).

Carl said the buttermilk pancakes were the best he’s ever had.

I’m filing this recipe under WINNING.

75/365: Kiss Kiss

Iris flipped out tonight. She’s been going to bed between 7:30-8:00pm for weeks if not months, and she’s been doing it without major complaint. Tonight she went to bed at 7:30 and woke up at 8pm—SCREAMING. Pacifier, snuggles, pain meds (teething? who knows): all in vain. Magically, as soon as we took her out of the nursery, she was in perfect health and spirits.

Also very wide awake.

We gave up.

Instead we sat on the couch as a family, eating sugar cookies and watching Liz & Dick (because nothing says “giving up” like watching Lindsay Lohan try to play Elizabeth Taylor). Between mouthfuls of cookie, we taught Iris how to kiss. “Beso!” I would say, and she would turn her little face up and happily lunge forward to meet mine.

“Who thought it was a good idea for us to try to raise a baby?” I asked Carl later, when I was starting to feel a bit guilty about the cookies and the much-too-late-o’clock.

He didn’t know either…

It’s well after ten-thirty now, and I just saw Carl emerge from the nursery to stand at the top of the stairs. He said he’d meet me in bed. No more Liz & Dick for me, and I guarantee you Iris is going to be one crabby little lady tomorrow, but if there are better answers than this for dealing with frantically crying children, I don’t know what they are.

Also she learned how to kiss.

That has to be worth something.


74/365: Pastimes

Ah, the truth comes out. It’s so much more fun to read endless books about my time period than to actually write anything. Margot Tennant’s autobio just showed up on my doorstep this afternoon, and of course I’m midstream already.

She should have been a Real Housewife. Or a blogger. Her egotism is insane, but so disarming because she obviously doesn’t see it, and she isn’t particularly mean-spirited. Equal parts charming and ridiculous.

In case you can’t tell, I’m having a great time.

I wish people nowadays were so obsessed with defining one another’s character. I don’t think I’ve ever tried to write a full page analysis of any of my friends or family, but Margot can’t stop ladling out the adjectives. Vera Brittain, come to think, was also obsessed with “personality.” It’s funny but even though we’re much more forthcoming about our diagnoses these days, we’re not at all forthcoming about the intricacies of our personalities. Other people’s, maybe. But not our own. And it looks like such a fun pastime.


72/365: Thankful


Not even nine months old and tired of posing

Happy Thanksgiving, world.

Iris is asleep upstairs, and Carl went back to his aunt’s house to sneak in a little pie and coffee and grown up conversation. I don’t mind at all. Have put on my pajamas and brewed a cup of tea, and I can feel my shoulders slowly uncrimping from a big day of bustling festive friendliness.

Thankful for families and gatherings. Thankful for quiet evenings at home.

The Christmas lights are twinkling on the tree, and our dining room table is covered in books and papers and a beautifully fresh copy of chapter one. So maybe I’ll write.

Or maybe not.

The quiet is tugging at me. Seems a shame to waste it on work—even work I want to be doing. I’ve never really understood people who come home from trips and immediately fall into a funk of withdrawal. When I was little, I used to say goodbye to places rather than people, and I still give my respectful greetings and farewells whenever I travel. Goodbye, house. I love you. I’ll see you soon.

Going is nice; coming home is better. The way a home’s individual scent has clarified in the stillness, so that after months of being unable to smell it you finally catch it in the air again. The books and pictures and memories right where you left them. A favorite chair. All the usual walking routes and backyard views. The comforts of your own bed and a closet full of everything you own.

Carl was telling me about a meeting in the creative arts department yesterday where they were talking about what one thing each person was most thankful for. He said he couldn’t answer, that everything is connected and no single event or relationship or fact makes sense as the single be-all-end-all. Even God, really… given that we can only experience God through our senses, our minds, our past, our spiritual awareness. Each of which is a blessing of its own.

I’m thankful for a lot of things this year. The obvious, the trite. The personal as well as the relationships I enjoy, old and new. It would be nice to be thankful for everything, but to be honest this year has been one of the more therapy-necessitating of my jaunts around the sun. In the thick of crisis, I’m much stronger than my general grousing would imply, but we all pay for our extravagances of energy and goodwill, sooner or later.

My emotional self started calling in my debts about the time Carl started to walk again. It was a really hard summer, and I still feel at times like I’m the insane version of a person I used to know, but I think we’ve reached the normal insanity of motherhood now. I don’t think I’m diagnosable anymore. I guess we can all be thankful for that.

… I just looked at the clock and realized Carl’s hour is almost up. It’s been a long time since I sat in the quiet and let myself mull life over. Mulling in general is starting to feel like a luxury I can’t afford. And I have a backlog when it comes to quality mulling: what the summer was about, what it meant; matters of personal spirituality and questions of being. It’s hard to remember sometimes that my own actual life is more important than my book or the house or the fun but ultimately optional activities I pour into my days with Iris.

It’s good to remember. Good to be in a quiet house with a quieting mind.

And I am very thankful.

70/365: Favorite Five

Actually, it’s not quite fair to limit her to just five. Now that she’s done hating everything (thanks, colic!), Iris pretty much loves everything. But here are some of her standouts:

  1. Grapes. For a while we were not only slicing her grapes neatly into eighths, we were also peeling them. This made sense about a month ago when she was still finding the peels challenging, but now that she has TWO pearly whites the peeling is happily superfluous. Also we would be spending several hours a day peeling grapes at this point. She LOVES them.
  2. Baths. She’s never been afraid of them, and when Carl’s undressing her for the tub she will do her best to make a break for the water, wiggling and grinning. Even the hair washing part is tolerated fairly well, although she does blink like crazy and grimace and generally look like a granny in a wind tunnel.
  3. Cruising. She’s a wily one. She knows perfectly well that when she’s standing up she can’t be left alone. When she sits, sometimes I do that awful thing where I walk to a different part of the room and do something that does not involve playing with her.
  4. Games. Peek-a-boo, Ship on the Ocean, and Patty Cake are all proven winners, but pretty much anything with clapping or a song wins points with her. I’ve played at tickling her for a long time, but tonight she finally seemed to understand it was a game and burst into giggles.
  5. Her mommy and her daddy (and also her mommy). I mean, let’s face it: There have to be some rewards for knowing all the words to the 1970s Winnie the Pooh theme song. In all seriousness, there is something precious and irreplaceable and slightly National Geographic about the way her eagerness to explore the world is only tempered by her need to have an eye or a hand or preferably a rump on me at all times. She falls asleep and spends the night in her crib now, but she likes to hold or nuzzle my hand while she drifts off. And I am in no hurry to change that.