Baking Blog 3: Product Review of Baking Buddies

Recently, I received an email that caught me off guard. It was a proposal. The New York Baking Company asked me to review their silicone baking cups (me? really? OMG!). After a few email exchanges, I received the silicone baking cups and after a few-too-many delays, I used them. Here is my review.

These are Baking Buddies silicone baking cups by the New York Baking Company:

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I will start my review with the package listed facts:

~ Standard Size
~ 100% Food Grade Silicone
~ Non Stick
~ BPA Free
~ Oven safe up to 475° / 250°C
~ Freezer / Microwave / Dishwasher Safe

Here is the link to the product:
http://www.amazon.com/Baking-Buddies-Reusable-Silicone-Guarantee/dp/B00EVQ167A

Here are the website listed features:

~ Never have to use environmentally damaging paper cups ever again! All our silicone baking cups are made from BPA free, FDA approved, eco-friendly, nonporous and stain proof silicone!
~ Flexible and easy release silicone! Perfect for dinner parties, just peel the side to pop out your muffin, cupcake, dessert….!
~ Nonstick silicone means cupcakes; muffins or other scrummy treats you knock up won’t fall apart when you pop them out! But what about all that mess? No need to worry, all our silicone bake ware products are dishwasher safe!

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I have used a few different silicone baking items in the past. I was not satisfied. The other brand of baking cups were thicker and heavier, but turned out to be flimsy. When they were filled with cupcake batter, the sides began to bow outward and the sides buckled when the heat of the oven softened the silicone. To worsen matters, the other brand of baking cups was not non-stick. The cakes had to be pried out, leaving sizable remnants of crumbs that then had to be scrubbed out. No. Benefits. Found.

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I can confidently admit that the New York Baking Company Baking Buddy Silicone Baking Cups are fantastic! They are brighter, lighter, thinner and more supportive than the others. The Baking Buddies held their shape when filled with heavy cornbread batter. They also maintained their perfect shape through baking and cooling.

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And to end, they proved to be 99% non-stick!

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In conclusion, I find Baking Buddies to be an awesome product! If you’re a baker and you make muffins, cupcakes, breads, or other individually proportioned desserts, you will appreciate the quality of this product. In an environment that’s riddled with side effects, toxicity and illness-inducing concerns; finding a reusable BPA free, FDA approved, eco-friendly product is a bonus.

I’m going to be a Baking Buddy for life! I wonder what other awesome products they might have!! 🙂

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The Honor Of Motherhood

I was honored with a request to write a dedication for Mother’s Day. My dear friend, Armina, chose me to provide her with something special to share with her congregation as they celebrate mothers and honor grandmothers with a small token of appreciation (a small change purse). This is what I wrote for her:

Jeremiah 1:5
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“Before we were born, before we were carried, before we were conceived, God made us into exactly who He wanted us to be. He chose every part of us and placed within us everything we need to be exactly who He wants us to be. He carefully picked our features, our intricacies, our personalities – and wove us together with His perfect hand. And then, as the gifts that we are, He presented us to our Mothers. Women, also born of His design, carefully chosen and picked to care for and nurture us in the way He wants and in the way that only She can. Born a child, grown into a woman, honored with Motherhood. From the day we conceive until the day we die, we are Mothers, forever CHANGED by the presence of our children.”

To my family, friends, fans and Facebookers, please, Enjoy your Special Day!

I shared my words with my Facebook world as well. At least four people shared my sentiment with their Facebook world, making the sharing downright exponential! How exciting, right? And in keeping with true BSB fashion, I’ve decided to turn those thoughts there into a post here.

Motherhood is a state, a condition, a way of life… and it cannot ever be undone. For the women that carry and birth their children, for the women that adopt or foster their children, for the women who have loved and lost their children — motherhood remains. It is a constant unwavering force that turns an individual into a family. For once a mother is born, a mother she will stay.

Motherhood is instinctual, primal. It comes from an inexplicably deep place in a woman’s soul. A mother cannot hear a baby cry, see a child injured, or even hear the call of “mommy?” without reacting. She thinks of the children before thinking of herself. She sacrifices her everything for their everything. The force of a mother is immeasurably intense and sincere.

Mothers need no rewards. They don’t need trophies, certificates or awards. Their joy comes in the smiles of their little ones. Smiles are currency in a mothers heart. Hugs, kisses and “I Love Yous” are the precious metals and jewels of the mother-child relationship! A spark is ignited every time a mother has eye contact with her IttyBit. It’s unlike any other eye contact on the planet and it resonates in her soul.

Whether she’s near or far, involved or estranged, she will always be your mother. She made you, made sacrifices for you and her joy comes from watching you grow and remembering when you were her baby. She cherishes you.

On this day, we celebrate our mothers. Those that gave birth to us, those that raised us, those that disciplined and praised us. We celebrate the women in our lives for whom without…we’d be nothing. Sometimes it’s one person, and other times it’s a whole family of women. Sometimes related, sometimes not.

However you choose to celebrate her, she will appreciate it. It can be a sincere heartfelt hug, macaroni art, construction paper flowers, vacuuming, perfume, jewelry, brunch, a spa day — whatever it is, she will love it. Do you know why? Because it came from you. Her joy is you. You make her happy. You are her endless source of Happiness and Inspiration.

Happy Mother’s Day! To my family, friends, fans and the like. Please smother your favorite lady with love, kindness and a little macaroni art.

the sectioning of my cesarean

before i tell you the story of how my twin darlings were ushered into the world, let me share with you my initial observations as i look back on the situation. there’s no pop quiz at the end, but these observations will give you insight into my mind-frame and disposition as i became a mother for the second time…and just two minutes later for the third.

obstetric observations:
– cold arctic breeze
– seafoam green tile
– sterile silver objects and tools
– a padded crucifix
– worker bees darting about donning shamrock green scrubs, cafeteria lady shower caps, and bird flu face masks
– THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED! i wanted contractions, dilating, effacing, water breaking, breathing, pushing, screaming labor! i didn’t want surgery. boooooooooo!!!
– fear. unfathomable i-am-not-prepared-for-this fear

and so…
a c-section is considered “major surgery”. looking back, i can’t say that i actually realized that before being wheeled into an operating room. it was quite the experience! i’d hate to scare anyone or bias someone’s opinion, but it was downright unnerving. it gives me a little anxiety just to reflect on it. but, the outcome was phenomenal, and i’d like to share our story.

full term pregnancy is considered forty weeks. that’s from egg-to-sperm conception to uterine eviction. where folks got “nine months” from is a mystery to me. gestation is almost ten loooong months, and a woman feels it. almost all women hit a wall around thirty two weeks. our bodies have been through the ringer. we’ve braved and survived trimesters one and two and as we round third base headed into home — we are exhausted. thirty-six weeks is considered safe. an infant is fully formed, inside and out, and simply gains weight for the remaining weeks. for those of us lucky enough to be blessed with multiple gestations (twins, triplets, etc) it is estimated that three weeks be subtracted from the estimated delivery date for each additional baby. in my case, my actual due date was december 02, my predicted due date (subtracting three weeks for the additional baby) was november 11, and my doctor advised that i would not be allowed to carry past thirty eight weeks, which was november 18. the more babies, the less room, and the more opportunity for complications. no bueno.

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snipets from my BabyBump app.

i saw my doctor on the morning of the eighteenth. nothing life changing (or date changing) was taking place. my daughter, Margo (known as baby A) was still breech. she was actually sideways (transverse) and was laying inside my pelvis. my csection was scheduled for the twentieth at nine. i left the doctor, went home, had a meltdown, and set out on a massive cleaning mission. if you’ll recall, this (csection) was not what i wanted. it was not the plan i’d contemplated and devised all these many long months. i wanted to deny it. reject it. but i knew in my mind that it was a necessary evil used solely for the purpose of bringing two tiny lives into the world — hopefully problem free. my logic accepted, but my heart and soul were in denial.

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taken by my coworker. if i recall correctly, from left to right:
13 weeks, 20 weeks, and 27 weeks.

the wee hours of the twentieth came. i zipped my hospital bag, finished the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and eventually went to bed. i woke just three hours later. i was elated, anxious, scared, worried, excited and nervous. i showered, tied my hair up and dressed for the occasion:

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a gift from Tiffany. this shirt turned us into celebrities. everyone wanted to know if i was REALLY having twins, if they were REALLY a boy and a girl, and if they could take a picture.

just after sun up, i woke my son, prepared him for his school day and waited (extremely impatiently) for danielle to pick us up. we loaded up, dropped off my first born and headed for the hospital. i met my expectancy entourage (the twins’s dad and oldest siblings) in labor and delivery. as well, prayer warrior #1 mz. Imelda came and prayed with me just as the whirlwind of procedures began.

undress completely. put this on. opening towards the back. put your stuff in here. sit down. do you have good veins? what’s your name? what’s your date of birth? who’s here with you? we are going to do this, this, and this. then we will go over here and do this. let’s see. oops. i’m sorry. oops. i’m sorry. uh oh. lemme get someone else. ok. hi. oops. i’m sorry. uhhhhh….that’s not good. lemme try again. yes? no. uh oh. oops. i’m sorry. let me get someone else. ok. hi. oooohhhhh. um, ok. sorry sorry sorry. ok, we got it.

it took three people and at least seven needle pricks to get ONE i.v. into my arm. the bruises that occurred from the attempts lasted for at least a month. once the i.v. was in, the green light was given and every little methodical tiny detail was underway. i bid danielle g’bye, surrendered my phone (re.luc.tant.ly!), and was whisked away.

as i lay on the hospital bed, slowly being wheeled away, i lost the warm fuzzy and almost comfortable feeling i had in the pre-op room. anxiety stomped into my heart and i realized that there was a lot more going on than i was prepared to deal with. we turned a corner, turned another corner and approached a doorway. wait. hold the phone. are we going IN THERE? in therrrrrre?

ohSWEETlordBABYjesusSONofGODinHEAVENpleaseNO!

the doorway led to the operating room. a brisk sixty degree breeze came from there. somewhere in my unconscious mind i heard “it’s cold to control the germs”. (*shrug* that’s the nerd in me). seafoam green tile and sterile silver equipment lured my eyesight. there were a few people in there buzzing about. each of them glanced at me and i instantly began to cry. i’m certain i began to shake my head and whisper “no no no” under my breath. if i had been one iota more coherent instead of scared i would have put my feet up and held my hands out, in animated cartoon fashion, to deter my entering THAT room. tears. big whopping alligator tears and a belly shaking sob. sob sob sob.

what’s the matter? is she ok? are you ok? what’s going on? scared? are you alone? ok, we’ll get him. are you ok? are you sure? just scared? you’ll be fine. ok, we’ll get him. we need a second i.v. we are going to do this this and this. ok? ok? are you ok, honey? let’s get started. ok, we’ll get him. a poke. a big bee sting. a burning sensation. lift your leg. lift your leg. help her. hurry.

within ten minutes, i was strapped to a padded crucifix, affixed with a second i.v., given a spinal tap (the bee sting, burning sensation of a pain blocker that numbs you from the boobies down), gently pushed over (because i was mentally numb and then my body went numb and i didn’t move fast enough) and prepped for surgery. i cried the whole time.

the worker bees buzzed about and my nurse; julie said:

we have to count the instruments. you’re going to hear some loud tapping of metal objects together and counting. don’t be alarmed.

shitcrap. don’t be alarmed? that was one of the most unnerving portions of the whole experience. knowing they were counting instruments because someone somewhere had left something inside of someone that wasn’t supposed to be there. ugh. CLINK! one. CLINK! two. CLINK! three. better safe than sorry, i suppose.

soon i saw the familiar eyes of my doctor. he grabbed my hand and greeted me with his ever so familiar “hello dear”. i cried harder. he assured me that everything was going to be fine, move along as scheduled, and within moments i would be holding my sweet babies. he was right. the busy bees put up a curtain at my bust line. the only thing i could see was directly above my head or to either side. WonderTwinDad was finally escorted into the room. he grabbed my hand, kissed my forehead and cheek, shushed me, and took his place at my side. he never let me go.

my doctor inquired about what i could feel and not feel. he asked me if i could move my legs. you bet i can! see? did you see that? ummmm, no. i was certain i was dancing a jig. he was certain i was completely numb and my legs were as heavy as two redwoods plucked out of yellowstone national park. boom! surgery began. there’s something “out of body” about being operated on. i was numb, but awake and alert. i developed a sort of tunnel vision and stared only at the ceiling and at the eyes and hands of the man with whom these miracles were made. without the feelings associated with pain and nerves, one only gets a pulling and tugging sensation. it’s very surreal.

it’s hard to imagine being pregnant for thirty eight weeks and then having the children without the involved birthing. for the most part, my job was done. i arrived. everything from that point forward was out of my control. an incision was made, and the babies were retrieved from within my body. WonderTwinDad said “i see a tiny foot”. i cried. first born was Margo. baby A. they showed her over the curtain but my head was turned and i didn’t get to see her. it was 09:37am. just two minutes later, a tiny little man made his debut over the curtain. Miles. baby B. it was 09:39am. and there … within two minutes, my motherhood had tripled.

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a few moments passed. the worker bees were busy. i know they were putting me back together, but i was oblivious to what was actually being done. i soon heard “mom, here’s baby B for skin-to-skin”. just then, a female nurse laid the tiniest baby boy upon my chest. he was wearing a diaper and a beanie. i was stunned. this little person had been inside me for months and now, finally, i was able to hold him. the nurse reappeared and soon whisked him away. i questioned “where’s the girl? where’s my daughter?” she was in the nursery with the NICU team. she hadn’t wanted to cry and they needed to “stimulate” her. 😦

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moments later i was stitched and taped up and ready to move. within a blink i was in a recovery suite. a huge room all to myself. where’s my daughter? where’s the girl? were my only thoughts. upon setting the brake, WonderTwinDad and the SuperSiblings arrived. they’d been admiring the babies through the nursery window. is she there? did you see her? is she ok? WTDad assured me that all was well. moments later the WonderTwins were wheeled in. the nurse asked “are you going to breastfeed? who would you like first?” i was giddy! my babies! my babies! MY BABIES WERE HERE!!! “give her the girl, she hasn’t seen her yet” said WTDad.

Margo was laid in my arms and i said “OHmyGODshesSOprettyyyyyyyy”. within minutes, i was breastfeeding both babies and that scaredy-fraidy-cat-sissy-lala feeling was gone.

let me give you the vitals:
Baby A: Margo Rae; 6lbs 5ozs, 19.5″ long, born at 09:37am
Baby B: Miles Raymond; 5lbs 5ozs, 18.75″ long, born at 09:39am.

you might consider me a little biased, but i think they are perfect. newborn babies come into the world with their heartbeats and not much more. as the hours pass, you find yourself in awe of their majesty. their tiny bodies and miniature everythings woo you into a state of bliss. i was in a full fledged newborn induced coma. this thing, this surgery was not my plan, but who cares, right? look what i get out of it.

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pleasant pregnancy

in case you didn’t know, i’m pregnant. yup. it’s true. i’ll be thirty six weeks tomorrow, with fraternal twins of the opposite sex. that means one boy and one girl, each in their own sac with their own placenta. we are nearing the end of our time as a three person unit and will soon be three individuals, with me in charge of care and concern. now, most women experience a variety of symptoms and ailments along the way that range from mild to horrendous. some are average and experienced by most, while others require bed rest or even hospitalization. i have no such experiences. i honestly have nothing to complain about.

today, at the local gas station, one or both of my tenants were doing something acrobatic, jarring and unexpected. as i stood at the rear of my car, rubbing my ginormous belly i heard “you’re so beautiful” from a neighboring car. i looked up to see a woman sitting in the passenger seat of her SUV. i said “thank you” and she followed with “you look great”. as i stated in an earlier post, this is not an unheard of compliment. my coworkers, both immediate and distant, have remarked at one time or another how amazed they are that i’m still walking and that the pregnancy looks good on me. let the record show that i do not share this point of view. i am a tri-plex and i feel like it. i feel huge. HUGE, disproportionate and clumsy. the few complaints that i do have are average and while they bother me, they don’t keep me from doing the things that need to be done.

i am and i feel blessed. completely. these babies are a certifiable Gift from God. i have yet to state “i’m having twins” without immediately hearing “oh, what a blessing”. when i further explain that they are of opposite sex, i hear “well that’s just perfect”. and it is. the perfect combination. they were named before i even knew their sex. i had one boy name and one girl name that i was dead set on, and was basically puzzled as to what the second name would be if they turned out to be of the same sex. but that’s not the case. they are Miles and Margo and they have been for at least five months.

i know of four other (immediately accessible) families with twins, and all of them are beyond happy. “C” has adult boy-girl twins that graduated high school this year. “R” and “E” have school age boy-girl twins. and “S” has boy-boy twins, born earlier this year. they have all assured me that this ride i’m about to embark on is going to be the best ride ever. i’m sure they’re right. 🙂

this time last year i would have been beyond denial if you were to tell me that i would be where i am today. thirty-eight years old, pregnant, with twins, and doing physically well. as with most of my posts, i started this weeks ago. i am now thirty-six weeks and four days pregnant and today is my last day at work before the big event. bittersweet. i’ve started my nesting phase which includes dusting, washing, vacuuming and sterilizing everything not nailed down (but those things get cleaned too). for the most part, i am prepared to bring my little darlings home and be comfortable and capable with necessary items at an arm’s reach. this is of course
after the feat of labor and delivery. :/

in true BrownSugarBritches form, i still didn’t post this entry and the weeks have flown by… several times over. if you can believe it, i have delivered, and my darlings are now a whopping SIX WEEKS OLD. i will share with you my delivery story as well as their progress in future posts, but first, i’d like to give thanks to God for allowing me such a problem free pregnancy. i would call it luck, but thats but that’s not what it is. it’s a blessing. a God given blessing. and now the drum roll…. introducing:

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i’ll post about my delivery experience next.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

missing my sweet gran

my grandmother should have turned eighty-nine today. her name is Arlena. i know that the word “should” sounds a bit harsh and implies overwhelming selfishness, but if it had been up to me she would have outlived me and my children. i know in my heart, that the eighty-two years she spent here was more than enough for her and that she longed to be with those that she loved but had passed on before her. including all of her siblings and her only son, my father.

brunch at the mission inn for my twenty-somethingth birthday.

gertrude and i; brunching at the mission inn for my twenty-somethingth birthday.

she’s my favorite person. she was born and raised in oklahoma. moved to california in her twenties, married, changed her name and had kids. she is still Arlena to many people, but i called her gran, or gertrude. i grew up with her. she raised me and taught me a sizable amount of what i know and everything you can’t learn in school. she was always eager to share and maintained an honorable quest for new knowledge. occasionally she would ask me a question, with a hint of mischief in her eye. when i would respond with my answer, she would say “that’s right, but you didn’t think i knowed that didya?” she was a hoot!

me and my gran! shortly after she got legal custody of me. i think i twas about 8, which made her 58. doesn't she look sweet?

me and my gran! shortly after she got legal custody of me.
i think i was about 8, which made her 58. doesn’t she look sweet?

Arlena wasn’t just my grandmother. from the age of seven to almost thirty-two (when i became a mother), she was my world: my hero, my father, mother, sister and best friend. she took care of me, provided for me and filled in the gaps as best she could. wherever there was lacking, my gramma spackled in love. she had an abundance of love. her cup overflowed with unconditional heartwarming, bear-hug type love.

she was a sweet girl full of country charm, southern sass and good ole fashioned etiquette. to me, she was the queen. her siblings called her “Brat”, as she was the youngest of five, born and raised in ardmore, oklahoma!

she said she was about fourteen in this picture. she manicured her own eyebrows with a straight razor! :/

she said she was about fourteen in this picture. she manicured her own eyebrows with a straight razor! :/

she had a sixth grade education, but stands alone as one of the most intelligent people i’ve ever known. she was a jack of all trades, with book knowledge, street knowledge, and the knowledge of experience. she was kind, generous and genuine. there was nothing fake about her and you knew when you met her. i have many friends extending as far back as elementary school that continue to ask about her. the mothers and fathers of those friends attended her funeral and shared their heartfelt love and admiration for her. when people ask about her, i always lead with “she was the best”. she really was.

free from oklahoma! fresh to california. all of twenty years old. and gorgeous (third face from the left).

free from oklahoma! fresh to california.
all of twenty years old. and gorgeous (second face from the left).

below is a photo that i think epitomizes my grandmother’s persona. from left to right is her sister Arlevia, her mother Annie Pearl, her eldest sister Ardailure and her. the front row is husbands, but i can’t remember one of the names, i don’t know who the other guy is and my grandfather is missing from this photo. but i don’t think i need to tell you the difference. which one of these women is not like the others? three old maids grimmacing in house dresses standing next to my smiling glamorous strapless choker wearing sunglassed hottie of a gramma!

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duck, duck, duck, swan.

when the bestie and i were just lil bits, my gramma and shannon’s nanny (from arkansas) used to cure and trade salt pork. do you know what that is? it’s a huge chunk of bacon-like pork with a god-awful ratio of fat to lean on it used to season foods. particularly beans and greens. my gramma used to buy it and put it on the top shelf of the pantry on top of the holiday china. she would leave it there until the white fat turned yellowy translucent. and then she would send it with me to give to shannon’s gramma. seriously. i mean, can you imagine? it used to make me shudder, but they would send them back and forth and be pleased as punch to receive.

during the years that we lived across from shannon’s family, my grandmother owned and operated a group home for developmentally disabled men. i believe she cared for more than a dozen men over thirty years. these gentle souls were once referred to as “retarded” or “slow”. for me, they were friends; the minds of children locked in the bodies of middle-aged men. she cooked and cleaned for and the same five “guys” for most of the life i knew with her. i don’t know where she developed the patience to raise her own children, care for handicapped children that weren’t hers and then love and care for me, before retiring and caring for preschoolers in the local head start system. i can’t say that i know anyone as compassionate as her. it takes a big heart to care for others, especially children, and children with disabilities. she did it all with a smile on her face. i don’t recall hearing any complaints about any of it. not once.

she was also a diehard dodger fan! the woman bled dodger blue! she was a baseball fan, but more of a dodger fan. and she looooooooved Vin Scully. she proclaimed that he was the best sports announcer to ever hold a microphone. she would watch the game on tv, but listen to Vin Scully on the radio. she could not stand to hear another voice pretending to know what they were talking about. through the Special Olympics program associated with her group home, we actually met several dodger players. they came to SBVC and signed a baseball that i cannot find. the players included Mike Scioscia, Mike Anderson and Orel Hershiser. tragic? I KNOW!!! in the last few years before she passed, she would call my friend Alfonso for baseball game information. her eyes were pretty bad and she didn’t have an understanding of the directv channel guide to surf through and find what she was looking for. she would call me to call him, and one time i just said “call him, gran”. so she did. later, he told me how he enjoyed receiving those calls. he said that he looked forward to hearing her voice and in knowing that he’d made her happy.

not a day goes by that i don’t think of her. she passed away (i really hate that phrase) seven years ago, on her eighty-second birthday. she had been ailing for some years. a horrid concoction of long-term hyper-tension, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. but what a marvelous eighty-two years it was! i was a part of her life for thirty-one years and i cherish everyday. my memories of her are abundant, thoughtful and often hilarious. again, i tell ya, she was a hoot. she could always make me smile. she’d been on hospice care for over year at home before we were no longer able to care for her. she was admitted to a hospice facility, and passed away just a couple months later. she was planning a thanksgiving feast.

it took a few years before my aunt and i were able to try and enjoy the thanksgiving holiday. with gran making plans to cook and needing our assistance, we were broken-hearted to say the least. thanksgiving had been a big deal in my younger years. over the years it had dwindled down to just the three of us and cooking a turkey day feast was a serious project that my gran just didn’t have the stamina for. she was excited and energetic about that upcoming thanksgiving. we’d discussed the menu and i was sent out to the garage and far reaches of the house to find miscellaneous pots and pans. old, antique, well-seasoned pots and pans that are part of the family. she’d even asked me to polish the silver (i’m rolling my eyes STILL at that undertaking).

in the last three years or so, my aunt and i have made our own thanksgiving. i don’t think we are “family ready” just yet. we enjoy the shopping and cooking, but it’s such an emotional event. last year i attempted my gramma’s sage-cornbread dressing (stuffing) and it brought tears to my eyes. i have no recipe to go by, so the secret lies within my nose and eyes. i’m looking for a particular texture, color and smell. i did pretty good. the peach cobbler was one level shy of gertrude-tacular, as well as the sweet potato pie. oh how i miss that woman!

she knew that i was pregnant but didn’t make it to see my sweet boy come into the world. i was five months pregnant with kenneth when she died. i desperately wanted them to meet. i could see the photo opp in my head of my sweet gran holding my sweet baby boy. my son named after her son. i’d hoped to share with her the joys and frustrations of my motherhood so she could laugh and heal me with her wise words. and now that i’m bringing the twins into the world, i just can’t imagine what she would say about my shape and size. i would love to hear it though.

while this post may seem somber, i am not as sad this day as i have been on this date in the past seven years. i miss my grandmother dearly, but i feel her love and guidance running through my veins daily. i wouldn’t be who i am without her. she taught me the most quintessential things that make me exactly who i am supposed to be. i cherish the memories of her, the stories she shared and the things she taught me. i wrote about her today to honor her existence in this world, in my life. i wrote about her to share with you the most amazing person i’ve ever known. and in the interest of not completely bumming you out, i will leave you with this:

me: gran, don’t you want a friend or a boyfriend type person? someone to go to lunch or the movies with?

gran: no.

me: why not?

gran: honey, i already get headaches, i don’t need one with a name.

on another occasion, i asked the same question and her answer was:

sweetheart, if i’m going to babysit, i want to get paid. you don’t get paid to babysit grown men at the movies.

BAM! it don’t get much more honest and southern than that! she was a hoot!

miracles of maternity

“a miracle”, “a blessing”, “how wonderful”, “so beautiful”, “you’re glowing”, “you carry it well!, “AMAZING!”

these are some of the top phrases heard by most pregnant woman. each and every statement is true. even the most uncomfortable, miserable, painful and trying pregnancy is still a miracle. a God given, (yet man made) miracle. even the woman who is sick all day, on bed rest, completely uncomfortable in her body, unable to eat or rest and appears to be all of these things — still carries a glow signaling the phenomenal goings on inside her. a woman’s body is made to receive, grow, birth and nurture children. the human body itself is insanely complicated, but the inner workings of a woman’s intricate birthing center are remarkable. pregnancy is astounding.

this week, i am thirty-four weeks pregnant with twins. one boy and one girl. Miles Raymond and Margo Rae. two unexpected, spontaneously conceived blessings. i’m a lucky girl. I AM BLESSED. i have endured far more (emotionally and relationally) during this relationship and this pregnancy than with any other relationship or pregnancy previous. but I cannot look at the ultrasound, hear the heartbeats, see the profiles, faces, and limbs and not feel completely loved and in love. whatever come what may, no matter the hardships and difficulties that the future holds; the blessing of twins is miraculous. i am in complete acceptance of this gift, and i’m grateful.

it is almost five a.m. and i’ve just been awakened by the crushing of my bladder. who can say if it’s stomping, jabbing, or just pushing. either way, there is additional pressure alongside the already full bladder pressure. this is somewhere close to the twentieth time i’ve gone to the bathroom in the last twenty-four hours. it’s an hourly trip made whether i’ve got a full tank or a solitary drop. to me, it all feels the same and carries the same urgency.

as i return to bed and settle into my far too familiar left-side-leg-propped-up-pillow-hugging position, my swollen belly starts to dance. the little people that live in there are awake and active. this will go on for another hour. their motions are sometimes abrupt, sometimes mild but always alien. my stomach jerks and pulsates out of my control. often times I giggle, but other times i squirm and grimace at the shape of my fetal apartment. i am hostage to their whims. my physical person is their home. i have tenants.

so far i’ve gained a little more than thirty pounds. i’ve outgrown my clothes, my first round of maternity clothes and my brazierre (an item that has not changed for more than TWENTY YEARS). i am the girl who ate a watermelon seed or swallowed a basketball beach ball. the thirty pounds appears only in my distended belly and according to spectators, i don’t “look pregnant from the back”. this is a compliment, i’m sure. ;D the rest of my body remains the same as it was thirty five weeks ago…

it is hard to see and feel the movement of a fetus and not be in shock. while contained within me, these two separate people are living their own lives. this isn’t to say that they don’t need me, only to point out that i hold them within but they do what they want. i am their life force. i provide the environment in which they will come to fruition, but they are essentially leeching nutrition from my being and energy from my soul. i am their guide to the universe. through me, they have their first everything. they are nestled amongst my relocated internal organs and are the sole disruption to my altered digestion. still, i cannot control their kicks, turns or hiccups. i belong to them much more than they belong to me.

it is in these times of quiet that i find myself most in awe. i share in the laughter and answer the questions of those around me when they marvel at my size, my shape, my glow. but as i lay here silently delaying my thirty eighth trip to the bathroom — i revel in the reality. what a wondrous time. they are dependent, yet fiercely independent.

ten months, forty weeks, or two hundred eighty days. during that time two microorganisms come together and create a life!! from invisible to visible, and on to touchable, holdable, hug and kissable. from the merging of cells comes the emergence of life. out of complete stillness comes a beating heart, breathing lungs, and blinking eyes. from pulsing blood and combinant DNA comes brain matter — that absorbs, transforms and consumes all it comes in contact with. the forming, growing and birthing of a child is a technology beyond all others. more advanced than any item of invention.

even the technological advancements that have allowed me to actually see the faces of my unborn children doesn’t compare to the fact that they are there. they are alive and everyday they become more alive, more aware, more beautiful, more prepared to tackle the world outside my body. and i will miss them so. as exciting as it will be to enjoy them with all of my senses, i will miss their presence within me.

perhaps this is also what makes pregnancy such an amazing journey. everyday that i am with child, my body morphs and changes to accommodate what is going on in my womb. the anticipation builds ever so slowly as does my size. my weight, moods, emotions, hormones and memory fluctuate in accordance with what my body needs. and i haven’t an inkling of control over any of it. a complete hostage, right down to my taste buds. something that i used to love may only bring disinterest or even nausea. and things i might not have ever liked seem appetizing. i am me, always, but now i’m a different me. forever changed.

i have turned the corner and moved from relatively comfortable to barely comfortable. my shape is awkward and “comical”. it takes time for me to move, as my center of gravity is shifted, my back and stomach are extended beyond their means and this makes me downright clumsy. all of my habits are modified. it won’t be long before i am unable to sit at work for nine hours. and soon thereafter i’ll be a mother, for the second and third time.

hopefully my sweet angel baby Little Miss Margo performs a miraculous acrobatic feat and turns her whole body around. as of two weeks ago, she was breech and blocking the door, while her smaller brother My Main Man Mr. Miles is smooshed into my rib cage. at least he is headed for the exit. either way, my doctor won’t let me go past thirty eight weeks (apparently every day past that can present complications for multiple births). that’s just a month from now. four weeks. in four weeks everything I’ve just written will seem like a dream — a vanishing memory that set in motion a new chapter in my life, my love, and my parenting. my heart is swollen with excitement, anticipation, anxiety, fear and urgency. before me lies the double edged sword of no longer being pregnant, but having to nurse TWO babies at the SAME time (say whaaaaat?). i long to see them, kiss their little faces and nuzzle with them in all ways. it will be nice to see what they actually look like and whom they resemble. but sadly, it marks the end of my pregnancy. don’t get me wrong, i don’t want to be pregnant forever (i’ve pretty much had my fill) — but i will certainly miss my little uterine terrorists. ;D

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