Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Making of the Christmas Cookie Steak

I finally made my first official batch of Christmas cookies the other day!

(The Election Day cookies that my sister and I made don't count. They were supposed to be red and blue with white frosting and sprinkles. However, not wanting to poison ourselves with an overload of dye and starting with a quite yellow dough, the cookies turned out to be red and green. They did not look like Election Day cookies. Sadface.)

These cookies are somewhat labor intensive, requiring two different doughs, repeated refrigeration and freezing, rolling out and rolling up, sprinkle sticking, and frozen log slicing. But boy are they good! And festive. And impressive. All great qualities in a cookie.

These cookies are also easy to alter to fit whatever flavors you might want to feature. The batch that I made were mint and vanilla. I'm planning on making a double batch next week, half of the mint and half red with cinnamon.
On a side note - We have a tiny kitchen, so my work surface for baking and rolling and such is our stovetop. Literally. Secondly, my KitchenAid seems to have a faulty motor and doesn't have any low settings. This leads to a lot of ingredients poofing OUT of the bowl. The picture below is even after I shielded the bowl with a kitchen towel. Grrr.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Contrary to what the previous post may conjure, we actually are usually shockingly happy. It's actually a bit funny. I really love(d) Ryann and she made me so incredibly happy and proud and giddy. But Clif makes me cry, I'm so happy. Not all the time. And I'm not generally a crier. But sometimes I find myself cuddling him or making faces with him or putting him down for the night, and the Happy just bubbles up so hard that it bubbles straight out of my face and this non-crier cries-grin-laughs all over poor little Clif.

I love my husband. I love my babies. I love my job. I love the city we live in. I love living so close to my sister and her family.

I had a really shitty thing happen to me. (Please excuse the language. But I think this warrants some strength of expression.)

But I love my life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Missing Her

I should be working on our obscene pile of laundry that desperately needs folding. Instead I've settled myself on our bed, queued up our iTunes Christmas playlist, lit a cozy candle, and I'm rustling through pictures and videos of my girl. As much as I miss Ryann desperately every moment of every day, the missing generally takes up residence in some background part of myself. It's there, but it lets me function and live and usually even thrive. But sometimes it jumps unexpectedly into the foreground and it's all I can do to keep from shattering all over again.

It's not always triggered by what I would think. I didn't cry when Jared or I held Clifton for the first time. I don't usually break at her grave. Often I'll just giggle at her pictures. But the endless round of nurses who asked about Clif's 'sister at home' after he was born. Having to tell them that she is 'deceased'. There really is no gentle way to say it. She's dead. She died. She passed. I usually opt for the more medical term of 'deceased'. Unless I can tuck in a quick 'she would have been three' and avoid anything further. Let the questioner deal with any confusion from the awkward wording.

The other day I watched Jared run down the sidewalk hand-in-hand with our friends' little 4-year-old girl and I thought 'that should be Ryann'. News stories really get to me. Stories of abused children. Abandoned children. Neglected children. Monstrous people who do monstrous things to children. And theirs are alive and ours isn't. They had healthy babies with healthy bodies and healthy DNA, and our perfect little girl had a time-bomb in her stomach. I hear parents snapping at their kids in grocery stores, friends complaining about their lack of sleep. And I get it, I really do. But I want to scream. I want to slap the impatient parents in the stores and yell 'My daughter is dead! How dare you take your kids for granted. How dare you wish you had it easier! My child died in my arms and you still have the option to hold yours.' But I know that's not fair. Plus, I don't want to be carted of to crazy-town.

Usually I try to direct myself into being grateful for what we did have. Usually it's surprisingly easy. Ryann was truly incredible. Sometimes it's incredibly hard. It's hard to focus on what we had and not  obsess about what we never will. It's hard to believe that portion of our lives is past and there are only pictures and videos left to relive it.

But tonight, hearing Ryann's laugh and seeing the genesis of her squishy-face, it's enough.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Medical Schmedical

Today was Clifton's two month pediatrician appointment. As of today he is nine weeks and 5 days old. It's pretty funny that all along our entire family has been thinking that Clif's so huge! I suppose compared to Ryann, and even Mei, he really is. But at 12lb 6oz, he's actually just at the 42nd percentile for his weight. However, he blows down the average when it comes to strength and alertness. It's fun to see the surprise on his Doctor's face when Clif pushes his entire chest off the table or when he watches everyone's movements around the room. His smiles and giggles are already easy, which is to be expected, since they've been around since his third week.

We have an order in to the hospital where he was born for his upper GI scope. We just need to call and schedule. Nothing is expected to be wrong. This is all for everyone's peace of mind. But it's still scary. And as much as I want to know that everything is okay, at least for now, I also feel bad for subjecting little Clif to a test that could be considered unnecessary.

But that's a worry for another day. Because as of right now, it's the weekend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Have you gotten your vote on? Clif and I dropped our ballot and are now eagerly awaiting the outcome. So exciting!

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 4, the Third Time

Yesterday was Ryann's third birthday.

I should have been elbow deep in flour and buttercream, balloons and tissue paper. I should have been cleaning the house and wrapping presents and shielding little eyes from surprises.

Instead we spent the day quietly. The three of us wandering around town, missing our fourth.

Overall, it was actually a surprisingly enjoyable day. (As long as we choose to not include an unconnected, stressful close to the day.) We were intensly grateful to have Clifton with us. And we look forward to and dread sharing memories of his sister with him. We are sad that our children will have to grapple with death from the very beginning.

As time went on after Ryann died, we tended to think about what she would be like at that future time. What would Ryann the 2-year-old be like? What would the 2-and-a-half year old girlie be doing? And we've always been able to imagine her with us, as she should have been. But recently we find ourselves imagining a little 19-month-old girl back into our home. It's startling to realize that she would actually be three. Ryann is no longer a growing girl in our minds, but forever frozen at 19 months. Forever squealing 'daddy' and never to yell a 'mommy'. Spinning circles in our living room and taking off down the hall at a dizzy run. Calling squirrels diggin for nuts 'doggies' and squirrels scolding from trees 'birdies'. We imagine a 19-month-old Ryann playing with her 18-month-old and 2-and-a-half year old cousins. She should be three. Leading them around and showing off her little brother. Someday she will become the little sister to all of our children.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of babysitting my niece. Just me, Clifton, and Mei. I could feel what it would be like to juggle little Clif with 19-month-old Ryann. Even though that's not what it would be. And it was hectic. And full of life. And lovely.


Grinning in Sabbath School.

Running away from hair-fixing before church.

Early potty training. Evidence of distraction attempts littering the floor.

Running back to me after children's story. A classic Ryann photo.

Determined to dress herself.

Concertizing with Daddy.

Clifton. The second light of our life.