November 13, 2011 § 9 Comments
It’s wintertime. Or so they tell me. Here in the Hab. part of the world, the days are still reaching into the high 70s, and many of us sigh longingly at the display tables of sweaters, no matter how thinly-knit. There will probably be a week or so in January when we can gleefully don those duds, but not quite yet.
In the wintertime, so the stories say, cold weather wins out. Historically, in colder climes, my hands and feet shrink. During the winter, my perfectly-fitted wedding and engagement rings spin deliriously out of control on my left hand. I am cautious not to applaud too vigorously at football games, mindful not to gesticulate too wildly, for the rings will go (and have gone) flying.
This winter, however, appears to be different. I would like to claim environmental influences–because it is still so warm outside, you see, that, that, is why I can never seem to feel cool. Why I have the A/C on a week and a half before Thanksgiving. Why I point a box fan directly at my spot on the couch. It is the fault of global warming, I insist, why my hands and feet are growing instead of shrinking.
And that’s when I let out the resigned sigh. Tomorrow is the beginning of my third trimester. And even though I have only gained 8 pounds (as of two weeks ago…Tuesday’s prenatal appointment could reveal slightly different results), the third trimester brings with it edema. Every pregnancy is different, of course, so not all women swell in the same ways, but I do believe all women swell. And I have swollen, friends. I am disturbed by my distended features. My fingers look to me like Vienna sausages. My feet like hooves. (Robert holds that they are not these deformities, but I can tell…everything is rounder.)
These past couple of days, I have noticed an increasing difficulty in removing my symbolic rings. It’s time. I can still wriggle them off, with some difficulty and threat of pain, but for how much longer is not clear.
So now what? Do I put them on a chain around my neck? Do I store them in a box until my fingers return to normal? (Will my fingers, never delicate by any stretch of the definition, return to normal??) I know that if I stubbornly continue to wear them throughout the rest of this pregnancy, I run the risk of never removing them again. Robert has reservations about my wearing these beautiful rings on a chain around my neck–he envisions disasters resulting in the loss of one or more of the diamonds that encircle the bands. Or of the wearing down or stretching out of the settings’ brackets. I can’t say that I blame him for his concerns; I share them, of course. But the idea of leaving the rings in a box…not to see them every moment of every day…well, I have been pouting all morning just at the mere thought.
But it is time. The bump is winning this battle of wills. As my belly rounds and expands, so round and expand my hands and feet. It’s time to relinquish the bling.
May 29, 2011 § 4 Comments
Today, I worked. Hard.
This evening, we got together with Robert’s family and celebrated his birthday a week early (literally–his birthday is next Monday).
I was able to take the evening off and actually enjoy our time with his family. I didn’t think about my dissertation once…unless someone asked me directly.
I’m truly grateful for evenings like this one. I’m grateful that I have a good relationship with my in-laws. And I’m grateful that Robert comes from such a truly loving family.
Happy early birthday, honey. I hope you enjoy your weeklong celebration!
May 24, 2011 § 5 Comments
Only one word can describe the meal Robert and I prepared together for our second anniversary: scrumptious!
Robert grilled steaks that had been rubbed down with olive oil and a dry steak rub while I cooked potatoes au gratin (and used a mandolin slicer for the very first time–I liked it!). Dessert was finished in time to put the potatoes into the oven.
Here’s our dinner table:
The delicious, deep red wine featured here is a Tempranillo by Biltmore. If you’ve never had it, I think it’s freaking amazing. We had been saving it from our trip to the Biltmore with our friends back in September. It’s extremely robust, dry, and blooms all the way down. Like I said, I adore it!!
For dessert, we had a yummy cinnamon swirl coffee cake, which I had never made before. In fact, I had just found the recipe on-line that afternoon. It was so delicious.
I drizzled a powdered sugar glaze over the top of it and finished it with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
And here’s the inside:
The dark line you see there is the cinnamon “swirl.” Sure, it didn’t really swirl but whatever. It’s in there and it’s delicious. The recipe calls for a cinnamon and granulated sugar mixture for the swirl. I read some of the comments and chose to go with a cinnamon and brown sugar swirl. I think the color contrast is really appealing, and the flavor is incredible!
I also used Swan’s cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. I found the cake to be crumbly, but I think a lot of coffee cakes are pretty crumbly. (I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had used AP!)
Last night, I went to bed with a full and happy tummy. And maybe I was a little bit tipsy, too. Just a perfect anniversary!
May 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Today Robert and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary! 🙂
As I write this, our dinner is cooking, the cake for dessert is cooling, and Robert is preparing the dinner table. He bought me the prettiest floral arrangement from a local florist and surprised me with it this afternoon.
Two years ago this evening, we were taking pictures and having dinner with our family and friends.
One year ago this evening, we were in Destin, gorging ourselves on the most delicious fondue meal we’d ever had at the Melting Pot.
Tonight, we’re having steaks, potatoes au gratin (which I’ve never made before), and cinnamon coffee bundt cake (also, a new recipe I’d never made before).
I considered making a red velvet cake for our dessert, since that was what our wedding cake was (well, half of it, anyway–each tier was made of both vanilla cake and red velvet cake, which is a combination of our favorite flavors). But the process was a bit messier than I was interested in doing over a single afternoon.
This dinner, though, will be totally delicious. 🙂 I love that after two years, we’re enjoying a quiet dinner at home. One that we both had a hand in making. I love that we know each other’s food preferences so well that we can make a delicious dinner for each other without having to ask whether or not the other likes that food.
We have shifted from those exciting, butterfly days of getting to know one another. Now we have created our little home, started our little family of two (plus the four furry ones), and we’re happy as can be.
Here’s to two years.
I love you, my most favorite person in the whole world. 🙂
May 22, 2011 § 8 Comments
Two years ago today, I was practicing a walk down the aisle.
Two years ago today, I held hands with my favorite person in the whole world and echoed the priest’s dialogue.
Two years ago today, I giggled my way through the mime, through the playing pretend.
Two years ago today, I prepared to step forward into a new identity, a new skin, a new life, a new relationship.
Two years ago today, I mingled with family and friends the last day I would be known by my maiden name.
Two years ago today, I slept fitfully, filled with anxiety and excitement for what the next day would bring.
Today, I am celebrating with the one person who knows exactly how I feel before I can even form the words.
Today, I am stronger, happier, better than I have ever been before.
Today, I have started a home with the only man who could make that home as warm and loving as it is.
On the eve of our second anniversary, I am flooded with comparisons of my old life and this one. I am hardly the same person any more.
And I have Robert to thank for that.
April 24, 2011 § 12 Comments
“I’m hungry,” I whined to Robert sometime around 9 this morning. “There’s no food in this whole house!” This is an exaggeration, of course, but what I meant to say was that there was no food I wanted to eat for breakfast in this whole house.
So, my loving husband loaded me in the car and off we went to the grocery store for a quick pick-up of a “couple” of items. A “couple” of items turned into “should we make pancakes or biscuits for breakfast this morning?” and “maybe we should have soy-free tacos for dinner this week….” (More on that tomorrow night!)
We shopped for close to an hour, starving along the way, and once home: we baked.
I rolled out Heart Smart Bisquick (it’s soy-free), popped the gooey-delicious disks into the oven while Robert cooked himself bacon and eggs (I can’t seem to eat them in the morning…I feel sick for the rest of the day), and then I set to work on preparing for Monday night’s dinner.
“You know,” I told my starving husband at 10:15. “I think we should go ahead and make the homemade tortilla shells right now, since we’re baking…that way we won’t have to try to do it tomorrow when we’re exhausted from work.”
Robert agreed. And then lived to regret his agreement.
I followed the recipe to the T, mixing my six cups of AP flour, 1 1/4 cups of soy-free shortening (palm oil instead of vegetable oil, thankyouverymuch), single tablespoon of baking powder and single teaspoon of salt with two cups of hot water (gradually added once the dry mixture creates small, crumbly balls). Robert manned our electric skillet while I attempted to roll out something that was reminiscent of a tortilla shell, in shapes that are utterly mind-boggling (the last couple do look a bit circular). And by 11:30, we had made a ton of thin, gorgeous, tasty tortilla shells for our soy-free taco night tomorrow. We froze half of them so that Robert could enjoy delicious breakfast burritos…for the remainder of the year.
Sure, we didn’t have our Easter Sunday breakfast until 11:30 this morning. And sure, our kitchen looked like we’d murdered the Pillsbury Doughboy for a little while.
But we ate semi-homemade biscuits for breakfast. And we made flour tortillas from scratch together.
Home-grown? Yes. Quaint? Cooking as a couple is as quaint as it gets. But a happy Easter? You bet! 🙂
Now, back to work!
P.S. I failed to mention that I burst a blood vessel in my ring finger today. I think it was from the strain of lifting some extremely heavy glass bowls out from under the counter. It doesn’t hurt, but my finger looks a little like it was in a fight.
February 26, 2011 § 17 Comments
You could say that as a kid I had a wild imagination. I didn’t just play house with my sister. No, no. She and I were sisters who had been married to army men who were both in the same platoon and had been recently deployed after we each gave birth to twins. Oh yeah. We didn’t play house. We rocked house. We imitated super-long-distance telephone calls from an “imaginary” place called Kuwait (it was the Gulf War, after all). We received heartbreaking letters detailing how our wonderful husbands had lost their lives serving their country. And then, we two sisters were alone in the world, against all odds…with our four babies.
Imagine my surprise when, after I got married to Robert, I came to realize that my childhood play failed to prepare me for what real marriage is like.
I mentioned on Valentine’s Day that Robert and I were saving our money to get a breakfast room table. Last Friday, we visited a good number of furniture stores in search of the best table. Saturday we bought it. It’s gorgeous, has a table leaf so that it can open up to an impressive 54 inches on all four sides, and we purchased two additional chairs for a total of six. Extravagant? Not so. When my parents come to town, we often have to eat in separate groups–four at our little teensy banquet table that we have now and two on the couch on top of (very nice) TV trays. When our new table is delivered a week from today, we will be able to seat eight people comfortably around the table. (We didn’t get four additional chairs for a total of eight because we couldn’t quite afford that.) I cannot wait until we receive our table and can finally entertain on it!
Today…today, we took a road trip around our little town and grabbed a bunch of brochures…on local houses. Our eyes were opened as to the expensive areas, the expensive floor plans, and the expensive amenities that we originally thought we just had to have. (I so want a two-car garage!)
After we returned home, our heads swimming, I realized we were going about this absolutely backwards. This isn’t like shopping for shoes or couches. You can’t just go browse around town and compare prices at each location. This is a situation where you have to know the amount of money you have in your pocket and select a house that fits that budget. (Although I trust most of my readers aren’t condescending, please allow me to remind everyone that I have never owned a home nor looked into owning a home. I’m a renter, through and through. This is my first foray. Be gentle in mocking comments. ;)) So, we’ll need to make a trip to the bank and speak to someone about home loans.
There’s some work to be done before we do that, but at least in the meantime I came to realize that Robert and I are on similar pages in regards to size and type of house we’d like to settle into (at least as our starter home). One of the things we have to accomplish before we sit down with someone at the bank is a salaried job for Amanda. That’s going to be part of my project over Spring Break in a couple of weeks–look for work after graduation. (I’ve already offered before, but seriously…anyone want to pay me about $30,000/year to read Shakespeare to you in your living room? I do voices and funny arms and everything!)
But here’s my greatest curiosity. Robert and I will celebrate our second anniversary in May, but I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that we’re grown-ups. Sometimes, most of the time, I still feel like we’re playing house. It doesn’t feel real. These past few weeks, looking at grown-up furniture to put in grown-up houses, I somehow felt like an even younger version of myself than I am. Is this our lives, really? Are we really talking about furniture and houses and cars and…babies? While it’s exciting and thrilling, it’s also surreal.
When does it stop feeling like we’re just kids playing house?
(P.S. I finished and e-mailed off my introduction this morning around 10 a.m. I’m actually…fond…of it. That’s an unusual thing for me to feel about a piece of academic writing, but I can’t deny it. These next two weeks are really crunch time while I work on drafting the next chapter. If I can meet this goal, then by Spring Break, March 12th, I will have a half of my dissertation drafted.)
February 14, 2011 § 10 Comments
Before Robert, I was a member of the Lonely Hearts Club (well…not officially…). I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would never find love, that I was not a lovable person, that I was destined for a life of loneliness. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that every Valentine’s Day would be Singles Awareness Day for the rest of my life. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my home would be empty unless I brought in animals (like my two beautiful kitty cats Callie and Beatrice).
And then I met Robert in January 2007. And all of a sudden, not only was I feeling things I had never before felt, but I was also faced with a peculiar dilemma:
I had never had a boyfriend for Valentine’s Day before!
I polled my girlfriends on my old LiveJournal as well as my MySpace profile for help: what do you get a boy for Valentine’s Day when you’ve only been officially dating for ten days? (We officially started our relationship on Super Bowl Sunday, February 4, 2007.) Of all the ideas my friends offered me, it was Tonia who offered the best one: a journal of some nature with favorite poetry in it. I loved that idea. So, I set to work writing a number of poems that reminded me of Robert and/or the way he made me feel. I purposefully avoided poems that incorporated the word “love” because we certainly hadn’t made it that far into our relationship by Valentine’s Day.
Robert took me to dinner at a highish-end restaurant (for this area’s standards), which was quite a treat. I bought a couple of date night essentials (a new dress, new shoes, a new necklace), and I was ready to go. Our Valentine’s Day dinner was romantic, tasty, and intimate. I started to fall in love with him that night.
And I’m continuing that trajectory today. Ever falling in love with him…but it oddly feels like falling up. I’m certainly not down, am I?
Robert is taking me to dinner at that same restaurant tonight. We haven’t been on a date there just the two of us in quite a long while. I’m really looking forward to it…although, this time around I haven’t put forth as much mental anguish agonizing over my outfit and what to give him for Valentine’s Day. We are actually saving up a little money to buy a new dinner table (not for the dining room…something closer to a breakfast room table, since we do not have the cash flow for a whole dining room table). That will be our Valentine’s Day gift to each other. And how grown-up are we? Lol. Buying furniture for a romantic gift. Lol. It happens, folks.
And although I love writing about my husband and our relationship, I had another intention for today’s post.
I wanted to write a letter to my past self. From A.Hab. to the younger version she was when she was still A.Wo.
To the Lonely Hearts Club unofficial member:
Valentine’s Day hurts. It reminds you of what you do not have and encourages you to dig your heels in even harder to believe that you don’t even want what you don’t have. You want to beat them at their own game–if you are to be rejected in love, then you want to reject love first. This is not healthy.
Instead, today I want you to be grateful for all the ways in which love presents itself to you daily. You may not experience romantic love today, but you don’t need to. You are loved. Consider your family who have supported you every step of the way. Consider your friends who make you laugh, with whom you spend your free time. When you spend a day wallowing in self-pity and in misery that you are not romantically linked with anyone, you end up allowing your own happiness to be determined by something that is lacking. Rather than focusing on the lack, focus on the abundance in your life.
And this is what I want to say to everyone who might hate Valentine’s Day because of what it represents and how it might hurt their feelings. Please spend today thinking about how love reveals itself to you on a daily basis. This does not have to be erotic or romantic love. But love in general. Even on our darkest days, we can say that we are loved by at least one person in this wide world. And I think that it is much more worth our while if we spend our time celebrating that love than wallowing in self-pity because we may not have a date on Valentine’s Day.
Revel in love of any form today.
Feel grateful that you are alive and well and capable of feeling loved by someone.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!