A day for pumpkins

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A birthday celebration

I am afterall, a bit behind on my posts, but wanted to share some shots from the day we celebrated this little girl turning 1. I don’t think she could have had a better day and I was so happy with her little party. We kept it small, just her grandparents, aunts and uncles. She had a blast tearing into her presents, feeding cheese to the dogs and chowing down her sliders. By the time cake rolled around she was too full to even dig in. When everyone left, she curled up for a long nap. When she woke up we decided to take her to a park and play until it was time for dinner and bed. It was the best way to celebrate her turning 1 and I’m so grateful for the people who where their to join us.

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20131026-235203.jpgA portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

She did it again. She grew up. Overnight. Suddenly she can stand on her own, and get up and down in one fluid motion. No more shakiness. She is soooo close to walking. And talking. I can see the wheels turning in her brain. She’s almost got it. She’s learning at an alarming pace. They turn 1 and take off don’t they?

She still seems small when she sleeps. I pulled out our winter hats the other day and was shocked that not a single one from last year fits her head. Not remotely. Her head has seemingly doubled in size. And then there’s the boots. She’s going to need boots this winter. Because she will want to play in the snow. Because she’s a little girl now, and no longer a baby. But when she sleeps, there’s no denying she’s still my baby. She’s becoming so snuggly in her sleep, curling up with her head on my chest. It’s painfully cute.

Her and this dog. She loooooves this dog. So much. Lucky for her he tolerates her, possibly even likes her. As she grows I can see him loving her more and more. I’m glad she will have him as a companion and friend as she grows. I have visions of him sleeping in her bed when she’s older.

My favorite photo this week, a little swimming fish.

Apple Cake Donuts

20131025-091756.jpgI’ve been craving donuts like it’s nobody’s business lately, but haven’t wanted to devote the time to them. Yeast donuts are the best in my opinion, but in the morning I want my donuts like right now and I just can’t wait for all of that rising. So I made cake donuts. Which are almost as good. If eaten fresh and hot and covered with glaze. These took just a bit longer and a few more dishes then a batch of pancakes. I have to admit I was impressed with how quickly I whipped up fresh donuts on a Sunday morning. Even the kid got to try one. Which she promptly threw on the floor for the dogs. As she does with breakfast most days. She’s just not much of a breakfast girl.20131025-091808.jpgI decided to stud these donuts with chunks of apple and cover them in a cinnamon sugar glaze. If you have cider on hand replace half of the milk with cider and I bet they are even better. I was craving all things fall and these hit the right notes. And then made me want pumpkin ice cream, and hot bourbon cider, and apple pie with brown butter ice cream…yummmm. Somehow my entire household managed to get sick so none of those other delights came to pass. A hot toddy worked its way into my weekend and helped soothe my throat and releive my congestion for a moment. Maybe this weekend pumpkin will work its way into our lives.

Apple Cake Donuts

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
11/2 cups buttermilk
Vegetable oil

Directions

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

3. Turn out dough onto well-floured surface. Roll out until approximately 1/4 inch thick. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter (or a glass) for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole, cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Re roll scraps of dough. They will not be as tender, but still delicious.

4. Add enough oil to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F*. Here’s a bit of truth for you. I don’t use a candy thermometer. I set the burner to medium and wait until it’s good and hot. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

6. Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or a cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

Cinnamon Sugar Glaze

Ingredients

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions

1. Whisk ingredients until combined.

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20131020-095800.jpgA portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

My sick little snot monster. This poor kid has a cold. Big time. But you would never know by her attitude. She must feel miserable, her nose is spewing snot, her eyes are watering, she’s clearly intensely stuffed up. But she’s still happy. She’s only been upset when I’m trying to suction or wipe her nose, or when she tries to nurse in the middle of the night and can’t breathe. Otherwise she has been her normal silly self. Case in point the goofball you see in this photo. She wanted to play while I attempted to snap her photo among the fallen leaves. She thought attempting to climb me sounded way more fun.

I get nervous when she’s sick. Her doctor tells me she can handle it but still it makes me worry. I get angry looking for someone to blame for her illness(we are so careful still), but then I realize blame does no good, and it’s no ones fault. Kids just get sick. She’s obviously much sicker then either my husband or I but it seems to be passing. We bought this chest rub last night and it helped sooo much. She slept so much better. The poor little dear is such a trooper, as she has always been.

Before she got sick we had been spending every minute of every day possible outdoors enjoying fall. I’ve photographed our time obsessively so I will share more soon.

Last week this bathtub shot was my favorite photo.

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20131013-155852.jpgA portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

We have been spending every second we are all together soaking up the fall. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, I wish it lasted a bit longer. On weekend evenings we have been picking a different park and going to play on the swings and walk. She’s starting to understand how all of the different playground equipment works and its adorable to see.

She had her heart check up this week, and things went well. It was beyond exhausting and stressful but all came out well. Most days we forget there is anything different about this child, but walking through those doors it smacks you in the face. About 15 minutes after arriving she was ready for a nap, so sitting still for the echo didn’t go so well. She sat still watching an Elmo video for about 15 minutes, although I think it was more like 5 and just felt like 15. Then I heard a small whimper. She was sitting in my lap, and my husband said her lip had started quivering a few minutes before. Then the full on tears started, and despite efforts on everyone’s part, she broke down the second they tried to touch her with the wand again. The pictures of her heart were few and blurry. Her cardiologist assured us he’s not concerned about her. There was a lot more to the visit, talking about the very real possibility of SVT in her future, but that she will be able to tolerate it, that she is kind of a mystery as her tricuspid valve doesn’t really leak(due to its level of displacement it leaking would be expected), and that although her saturations remain low, that its ok. She’s ahead in growth, and developing perfectly. We came home finally after almost 4 hours(which if you have a 1 year old you know is a loooong time to go without a nap, or nursing in the morning). My husband and I were both completely drained by the experience. Luckily our little babe was quickly rejuvenated by a long nap.

Last week I quite liked these images.

Fathers

IMG_3674I started writing this post on facebook. Linking to this post. And then I realized I had a lot to say.

I remember the haze after our daugther was born. My husband was my rock. In so many ways. Too many to count. He was at her side, when I couldn’t be. His was the first hand that she touched(well, besides all of the doctors and nurses). His voice the first that sang to her. And then he took care of me. Some how he learned how my pump worked(did I teach him? Did a nurse?). He woke up with me everytime I needed to pump, or take ibuprofen. He helped me pump, he cleaned the parts, he tracked my ibuprofen so I stayed ahead of my pain. How I got through those first few days is a mystery to me, but I know this, I could not have done it without him. I would have fallen apart. HE made me strong. HE helped me become a mother. HE supported me and loved me in ways I never imagined.

And then we were home, and he was already back at work, and he was still my rock. He rocked and swayed and sang her through her period of “night time fussies” better then I ever could. He baby-wore, he brought me water and entertainment when she simply would not stop nursing for hours. He was and is the most amazing father I could have hoped for.

We talked recently about the role of the father in our society. How we don’t celebrate them the way we do mothers. Mother’s Day is a huge event, but Father’s Day, meh, whatever. Fathers are simply pushed behind the real heros of parenting, mothers. And it’s crap. It’s a load of shit. Sorry. I couldn’t be the fierce mother I am without him. My child would be lost without a father, as all of the fatherless children I know are. We rag on deadbeat dads, but celebrate a mothers independance. My husband grounds me. He makes me sane(ok he also drives me insane at times). He balances out my crazy. He is the voice of reason when I’m loosing it. Watching my husband navigate the waters of parenting has opened me up. Men don’t get the advantage of breastfeeding to help them bond, in most cases they don’t get to stay home for weeks getting to know this precious new child. They don’t get even half of the credit they deserve.

I married a good man, that much I know. He is far more then even he knows. He shows me on a daily basis. And today, on a regular weekday, I celebrate him. Who knows, maybe I’ll even make him cookies tonight. He is afterall, the best.

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20131006-132557.jpgA portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

It’s strange for me, the realization that my daughter has turned 1. Yet one year ago we were still in the hospital. She wouldn’t come home until October 9th. And then 9 days later we would be readmitted.

My brain has been replaying those events, so long ago already, yet not far enough.

At four days old my daughter was loaded into a NICU ambulance accompanied by nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists. The trip was short, just 2.5 miles to the children’s hospital, but it felt like the longest drive of my life. She was so fragile, her oxygen saturations lingering in the 60’s for extended periods, sedated and intubated. We arrived through the emergency room entrance and followed her in her little isolet through hallway after hallway. I had given birth 4 days prior and felt like I was going to die trying to keep up. But I had to. It was a whirlwind, them checking us in, getting her settled while we tried to eat and kill time. Sitting in her room at midnight, talking with cardiology about surgery, how I may not be able to breastfeed her because of her heart(which is not true in case any other heart mamas are reading this!). At 1 am we finally decided to go home for the night. I felt awful leaving her, but somehow comforted that this was the right place for her to be.

I keep trying to remember what our stay was like. The detailed notes in her chart have given me insight. The day her saturations dropped into the 30’s and she got a blood transfusion, when her heart rate hit 220, how she managed to avoid an exploratory heart catheterization because the MRI they would use wasn’t functioning properly. It’s funny how the human brain works. These aren’t the things I remember when I think of that time. When reading them on paper, I can recall bits and pieces. What I remember is holding her for the first time at 7 days old. Her first bath at 8 days. Offering her very first taste of breastmilk on my finger at 10 days. I remember the shift in my parenting between our first stay and our second. How afraid I was to touch her at first, pick her up, to nurse for fear of detaching some precious wire keeping her alive. The second round I folded the couch into a bed, pulled her crib close and kept her in my arms, in my bed and with me every waking minute. I took charge of her care, learned how to attach the 5 lead EKG(smoke over fire, snow over grass, dirt in the middle), the pulse ox on her toe, the NIRS monitor on her back. I learned to weigh her diapers and that 4 am meant time to weigh the baby. It was a mini crash course in nursing and cardiology.

It was a strange place to be. One I wouldn’t wish on anyone, yet I feel grateful to have met the people I did. Soon we go back for another echo. We park in the same ramp we did for that month. We use the same elevator. Visit the same gift shop. I long to go back and visit her nurses from her stay, yet I feel terrified to set foot beyond those doors. To hear the constant alarms that plague the PICU, to see the teams making their rounds and the nurses hurrying. I still know those sounds even after all this time. I can still hear them perfectly. I can still feel the dim light that hit once the sun went down. I still remember the sound the bathroom door made when you closed it too hard.

We made a slow journey out the door the first time. Once this kid was allowed to eat, she flourished. She grew stronger by the minute. Her journey may have been one step forward and two back but she made it out despite the odds. Moderate to severe is what they categorize her defect as. And you would never know it today. I’ve said it before, but my anticipation and anxiety leading up to these appointments is insane. I get excited. I get nervous. I feel giddy and afraid at the same time. And the task of keeping her still throughout the process becomes all the more daunting as she ages. We will be packing loads of distractions in hopes that she is still long enough for a few clear shots of that little heart.

This weeks photo was her first taste of a s’more. She mostly dug her chubby fingers inside and scooped out the marshmallow. There were so many photos to love this week. These from the brains behind this project. This kid, I mean come on! This photo and it’s heavy sky. This bookstore shot makes me think of future bookshop visits. The depth of field and the light in these remind me of one of my favorite photographers, Sally Mann. I love weeks like this, when it’s difficult to choose a favorite since so many are wonderful.