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My sister watched her due date come and go yesterday. She loves Halloween, so even though an All Hallows’ Eve birthday wouldn’t mean the same in Italy as it does here, I’m hoping her little guy arrives with a bang today!

I haven’t had much time to think this week, but as she approached the 40-week mark, I found myself becoming increasingly excited. Vicarious anticipation, if you will. Both Jack and Oliver came early; Jack by four days and Oliver by two weeks. Both, as you might know, were born on festive holidays: Jack is a July 4th firework and Ol is a St. Patty’s shamrock. So, I’m hoping her baby’s lack of punctuality means that he too will join our family tradition of holiday surprises.

Back in July 2006, I passed my 39th week and my parents arrived in hopes of making it before Jack was born. It was a hot DC summer, and I was more than ready to welcome my boy. On the night of July 3, Tom, Mom, Dad and I sat out on our deck, the three of them happily enjoying margaritas while I cheered, once again, with a seltzer and lime. This Louisiana gal was most definitely over the dry-living lifestyle by then, and when Tom set a bowl of chips on my shelf of a belly and it stayed there, securely enough so that they could all grab chips before dunking them in guac, I smiled a wan smile and thought a private message to Jack: “Little one, you best come soon.”

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supportive husband!

Around 10 pm, we finally bid each other goodnight, and I fell fast asleep. At 2:20 am, I awoke in the grip of a serious contraction. “Tom, this is it. Yow!” He said, “Are you sure, hon?” I death-gripped his arm, told him to time my contractions, found that they were a minute of less apart, and ordered him to call our doula and wake my parents.

Meanwhile, I got myself to the bathroom and plugged in my curling iron. Hey, I knew pictures would be taken, and the least I could do was quickly style my hair. Surely this makes no sense to anyone but me (and probably some other women out there). Five minutes later my mom was upstairs, saw what I was planning to do, and said, “Emily, what in the world? Unplug that thing and get in the car. Don’t you remember I had your sister in the hospital hall on the way to delivery?”

So anyway, we got in the car for the drive from Reston (where we were then living) to DC (because I was hell-bent on delivering at GW with my beloved OB), attempting to make it downtown before the Key Bridge closed in anticipation of immense July 4 traffic. My OB almost didn’t make it. For real. We pull into the ER entrance, and the utterly sanguine nurses were like, “Oh, sure your contractions are that close.” The pain was so enormous and my contractions so frequent that I seriously thought I’d rip one of their throats out if they didn’t take me seriously and get me to a room. But I kept smiling.

Fast forward just five hours, and I was holding Jack and ordering Tom to sneak Moet White Star (now Imperial; shoudn’t’a changed the name, Moet) into the hospital that night. It was all totally terrific, except for the part where I thought I was literally breaking in half and screamed as much. My parents heard me from the waiting room. Bygones. I got the epidural then.

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Jack!

Not quite three years later, I awoke feeling like something was going to happen. We were, mercifully, living in DC at this point, and Jack and I were snuggling on the couch reading- as best a 38 week pregnant lady and her son can snuggle. Tom was supposed to head, ironically, to Reston for some meetings, and I said, “please keep your phone on and at the ready because I just feel kinda, kinda, I don’t know, kinda something.”

Swear to G not ten minutes later, Jack asked, “Mom, did you just tee-tee on me?” My water had broken. It hadn’t with Jack, and I was floored by how much there was. It was a flipping reverse-geyser. In any case, Tom said, “That is so weird- you really did know! I’m glad I didn’t leave.” My mother-in-law was at the airport but canceled her flight to come stay with Jack. A friend stayed with him until she arrived so that Tom could get me to the hospital, leaking all the while.

Oliver didn’t want to come as quickly as had Jack, but ultimately he was born at 4:16 pm, a time I felt was wonderfully auspicious as it’s the month and day of my own birth.

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Ol!

Both were such deeply happy days, and I wish the same for my dearest, best-friend sister today. Come on Bruno Tiny (don’t worry; just our nickname for him). Make your entrance!

I would like to send a shout-out to good friends and their loving deliveries -medicine, Gatorade, lunch today- as well as beloved cartoons, Advil and iPads. Because of these things, Ol and I had a pretty nice day despite his feeling so poorly. I made some ginger applesauce and a big pot of gumbo and also baked a loaf of fresh bread, slices of which both kids have devoured. This bread recipe is an incredibly simple, fool-proof delicious one. Though its author titled it No-Knead Sandwich Bread, it’s much better and more sophisticated than the sandwich portion of the name suggests!

A real testament to this is that it’s the only non-ice cream & shortbread foodstuff Oliver has eaten in three days.

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no-knead bread

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Ol has mono, y’all. Mono. Poor guy. He feels like a giant pile of feverish ass and can’t return to school this week. We are hoping for Monday. In and around finding this out, purchasing enormous quantities of ice cream, feeding said ice cream to him, sinking a small fortune into Magna-Tiles (admittedly a terrific toy) and attempting to keep medicine in him long enough before he puked so that it could take some effect, I made some bread and that is all. It’s still rising. Because of this, I’m having leftover fruit salad for dinner and think that otherwise today is a wrap.

My sister is due tomorrow. Send healthy birthing vibes her way!!

One of the first things I heard upon waking this morning was, “I frew up on my feet.” Oh, Ol. At least he usually goes straight to the porcelain god when he feels he’s about to puke. In any case, he is home, I am counting the minutes until the pediatrician’s office opens, and I have canceled out yet another day.

But in better news, I managed to get a delicious dinner on the table round about 9:00 last night. Better late than never, yes? There just really aren’t any good delivery options around us, and cooking makes me feel happy.

I slow-cooked slivered shallots and Brussels sprouts -in a teaspoon of bacon fat and some olive oil- with salt and lots of pepper and later deglazed the pan with some sherry before adding some chopped speck. Meanwhile, I fried a a clove of garlic and a handful of Brussels sprouts leaves that I wanted to use for a garnish and cooked some mafaldine until al dente. I added the pasta to the veggie mix, tossed in some cream, a generous mound of Parm and some of the garlicky oil in which I’d fried the sprouts’ leaves. I cooked it all on low heat until the pasta was perfectly done, topped the whole thing with more pepper, Parm and the bright green leaves and called it dinner.

Doesn’t this look hearty, comforting and wonderful?

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mafaldine with shallots, Brussels sprouts and speck

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Last Thursday, the boys and I each received a Flu Mist. I have a hate-hate relationship with flu vaccines and had sworn off getting one this year, but while at the pediatrician with the boys, I felt guilty saying “No” when offered one. On the way home, the three of us took bets on who would stay the most well. Jack was certain he would “win” and win he most definitely has. He and Tom seem impervious to anti-flu treatments. Shot, Mist, whatever… Doesn’t affect them.

I, on the other hand, get sick every damn year from this attempt at responsibility, hence my swearing off of one this fall. Fortunately, I was not struck with the vicious fever and chills (that left me sore!) that plagued me last year, but I have felt low-grade cold-like since Thursday. I am not getting a flu vaccine next year. You heard it here first.

This has not been made better by the fact that on Friday, Oliver developed a fever and still has it. A high one. He feels like ass, missed a long-anticipated playdate on Sunday and has stayed home from school for the past two days. I suspect we’ll be hanging out again here at home tomorrow. My poor guy has been riddled with spiky fevers in the middle of every night which, if you do the simple math, means neither of us have slept worth a damn.

In fact, round about 2am this morning, Ol toddled in to say, “I have something I weally need to ask you.” “Oliver,” I said, “are you sure it needs to be asked now?” “Yes! When can I have a playdate with that boy from my Lego camp class last summer? I fink his name was Caleb?” Ohmahgah.

Cat is still peeing red but is improving. Tom is an excellent dispenser of pills to cats, so I’m grateful. I am blowing my nose to beat sixty which is exceedingly ironic given that it also feels tightly packed with rolls of gauze and actually toted a box of Kleenex to both parent-teacher conferences T and I had today.

We did have a successful little Halloween party full of friends, cookies, a piñata and crafts. Ol was on a real up when he and Jack discovered my “cake decorations” box while I was walking a friend to the door. Eight pounds of black sugar later and I hustled them into a bath which immediately turned gray. Ah well. Happy kids.

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sugary J

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sugary Ol

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wow

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roasted celery root

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