I’m Sort of Thankful

My Mom is a Master Gardener. She seems to have learned a lot about different plants including fruits and veggies. While we were visiting my family a few weeks ago, I got the chance to learn a little bit about parsnips. Parsnips are white colored and look like a carrot. They feel like a carrot. They are from the same family as a carrot. Parsnips are not rare. Lots of people have heard of parsnips, although much fewer have cooked them or tried them. I stumbled upon a recipe in a parenting magazine that called for parsnips. I decided to put it on the menu for Thanksgiving this year.

Monday afternoon: Erin wakes from her nap and we seize the opportunity to hit the grocery store for our Thanksgiving ingredients. On that list: parsnips. I was surprised to see a full parking lot when we arrived. It was only Monday, but apparently many people take that day off to grocery shop for Thursday. My game plan changed: get the items you know their location to and get out. A toddler, does NOT save you money while shopping. I would come back later that night for the rest.

First stop, produce: couldn’t find the pre-cut butternut squash (lazy I know), oh well, I’ll be back. Scallions, apple’s, and russet potatoes were all quickly placed in the cart and checked over by the kid. Oh, how could I forget asparagus….I do need to cook dinner that night too. Next up before leaving produce: parsnips. I see parsnips in the corner just above the carrots. But I stop because they look like white carrots, I don’t see anything else that looks similar, but I’m crunched for time and there is a produce guy right next to me. “Excuse me, sir. Where are your parsnips?” His finger points me to what I was looking at just a second ago. I grab 4, put them in a bag and move on. At check out, I am greeted by a young looking kid. Probably early college or high school. The parsnips glide towards him on the belt. The 30 items before him seemed like a breeze. He had all his produce numbers memorized. As he takes the parsnips and places them on the belt, he gives me an odd look as if he had no idea what they were. I told him “parsnips.” The older checker walks past and yells out the code to him. Ah, she knows parsnips!

The parsnips safely made their way home, and are lovingly placed in our crisper (really, I don’t know why this drawer exists. It doesn’t make it any more crisp, nor does it keep it crisp…hey we rent).

Thursday, noon: I pull out the parsnips to prepare for my parsnip potato pancake recipe. I get a wiff of them as I open the bag….they smell like carrots. I wash them and take a bite: it IS INDEED a CARROT! So not happy with our grocery store!

So, thanks to Waldbaums, we ate white carrot and potato pancakes today. For that, I’m sort of thankful. Lesson learned: don’t trust your grocery stores produce dudes and always smell your veggies before purchasing.


It’s Like Taking Candy From a Baby

Well, we did it, we survived our first official Halloween with Erin.  We got her a costume, she borrowed a pumpkin shaped pail from her cousins, she went to doors of strangers’ homes and collected candy.  For an 18 month old, this is quite a feat. Here was my plan:

1) Try Erin’s costume on a few days before the actual holiday in case she did outgrow it.  I tried this, it resulted in a HUGE tantrum and took TWO adults to get her in the thing.  Let’s just say, this had me biting my nails in anticipation for the evening of the 31st.

2) Teach the phrase, “trick or treat” in hopes that she would say at least one of those three words.  I failed miserably.  She would just smile, then try putting her hands on her cheeks and bat her eyes.  I tried to explain to her that being cute doesn’t get you candy on Halloween. I’m sure this confused her as it tends to work wonders bumming snacks from kids and parents on the playground.

3) Try to get Erin to nap a little longer or later earlier that day so she could successfully be happy past her normal bed time.  I think she napped her usual amount.  Oh well.

So that was my plan.  I fully expected her cousins (ages 4 and 7) to teach her the rest.  As we all got dressed up (Erin was fine getting her costume on once she saw everyone else getting dressed up), her cousins got more and more wound up.  Uncle Cory opened the front door and the kids bolted like they were rockets lit on fire.

Poor Erin, so kind and endearing.  She just wanted to make sure that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the house was together and not left behind.  This decision resulted in her only seeing her cousins for the fraction of a second it took them to zoom past her in the dark, rainy street heading to the next door that was strategically planned to pound on next.

The first house: she was like a deer in headlights….strangers staring down at her, as they put something in her bucket.  We make it two steps down their driveway and she stops, puts her bucket down, and reaches in to check out her loot.  Second house, same deal.  Third house, possibly something similar.  Somewhere between the 3rd and 4th house, it started to click: I ring the doorbell, someone answers and puts something in my bucket.

Fourth house: Meima and I walk her up, she rings the doorbell, and then hears foot steps come up behind her.  As the gentle homeowner slowly opens his door, Erin turns around to see who (or shall we say what) is behind her.  There, she learns a new part to Halloween. As she gazes up, Erin finds a werewolf and deceased bride twice her size staring down and her.  I swear that wolf was breathing deeply and had some drool coming out of his mouth as he stared right back at her.  Erin, not even noticing the man behind her slipping some candy into her bucket, starts to shake her head saying, “no no no…” This was a part of Halloween that was NOT what she expected.

After receiving her candy, Erin now faced the challenge of getting past the wolf and his bride to Mom and Meima.  Not an easy feat for a 33 inch ladybug.  I swooped her up before tears were shed and we were on our way.  Dragging my child from house 4 to house 5, all Erin could do was notice EVERYONE was dressed as something different.

A feeling of being overwhelmed must have come over her because at that point, she dropped her bucket and started signing “all done.” We took her back to the house where we marveled at the costumes as kids rang our doorbell.  Somehow they weren’t as scary from the comfort of a house she knows.

And there you have it, Erin’s first Halloween.

What happened to her candy?  Mom and Dad ate it of course! Yes, we took candy from our baby.

Memories are Never Forgotten

It’s been almost 3 years since Rachel came and left us.  We never had a memorial service for her.  ImageAt the time, we didn’t think it was worth it.  No one knew her, she only lived 2 days. I just couldn’t picture a memorial service like one that everyone knows.  One where there are songs, people speaking about their memories of the lost person.  What was there for us to speak about?  She was in an incubator for 2 days; I held her for the first time to comfort her as her heart slowly stopped beating.  There was no first smile, no first word, no learning how to ride a bike, school graduations, or adventures around the world.  So really, what would have taken place at her memorial service?

Each year, during the month of October, the hospital I gave birth to Rachel at holds a pregnancy and infant loss memorial service.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I had received a brochure each hear to attend the ceremony, but never did.  We always had something going on.  This year, as I found the invitation in my mailbox, I dropped it on the desk in front of my husband and firmly told him, “I’m going this year, no matter what.”

“Okay.” he replied.

I invited a friend who recently had a stillbirth to join me.  We traveled together to the memorial service where we met up with two other women from my support group.  There was music (violin music which we quickly realized that although fitting for the occasion, was not helpful in holding back anxiety and tears), a speaker who shared her story of her loss;  a time of name calling where our children’s names were called and us, the parents, got to light a candle for them. We then proceeded to the memorial garden where we laid flowers and dedicated new memorial bricks.

The woman that shared her story was Ivy.  She led my support group at the hospital.  Ivy lost her first born child to what was diagnosed as a cord accident.  She shared her experience with her pregnancy and how it abruptly and tragically ended at 37 weeks.  She shared her pain, hurt, and grief process with us.  Although it’s been 16 years ago, Ivy’s emotions were still raw as she shared about her daughter.

That speech, that is something that would have been shared at Rachel’s memorial service.  The story of the 6 months I spent with her, in my belly, and the 2 days on the outside.  Do I have regrets about not having a service for Rachel?  Sometimes.  But I know I can’t change the past and the fact that I have a memory of her and a yearly memorial service to go to for her and other babies is what helps me going some days.

Maybe one day I will be sharing my story with others in the way that Ivy shared hers with us.  If I do, I hope that Rachel will be there holding my hand through it all.