Thursday, April 30, 2009

There's no place like home . . .

We made it to Connecticut LATE Monday night (really Tuesday morning). My Nana's wake and funeral were very nostalgic, but she would have been so proud of her family all being together, and if there's a silver lining in death, it is definitely that--having family all together again. I just wish everyone had gotten to be together longer (and under better circumstances!)

I had a doctor's appointment before I left. Baby is progressing well--he/she has a good, strong heartbeat (150 beats per minute!) I am convinced it's a boy, but still like the possibility of knowing it could also be a girl. For the record, I have absolutely no preference, but there is something kind of fun in not knowing which is in there right now. Speaking of that, we have our next ultrasound on May 21st. I think we should be able to find out the sex then, as I will be 22 weeks by then, and we have decided to wait until we are faced with the decision to make it (meaning, not sure yet if we want to know the sex, but we'll see!) My pants are just starting to get tighter (at least the ones that sit higher up), but I am desperately trying to hold out until school is over before transitioning into "maternity wear". I'll let you know how it goes :)!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hit the Nana, Win a Prize

Last Saturday, on April 18th, my Nana, Mary Frances (Berry) Dwyer, passed away. Those of you who know my family know how close we all are-5 Dwyer children, 16 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren (and two on the way!) Holidays are always somewhat of a grand spectacle--and no occassion is complete without laughter. To say this great woman will be missed is a bit of an understatement. I know there will be quite a few tears for her death, but I also know there will be much laughter as we celebrate her life.

I think my grandparents have the most amazing love story, and they have clearly set the bar for the rest of us. My grandparents met during WWII, in a letter. It seems so strange to us, because we don't write very many letters anymore, unless you include e-mail, but there really is nothing quite so thrilling as opening the mail and finding a letter. You see, my grandparents had mutual friends who had tried to get them together on a number of occassions, but it never worked out. And, as fate would have it, my grandfather (William Francis Dwyer) had just left Connecticut for Air Force training in Texas. So, when my Nana was at their mutual friends' house, they convinced her to add a post-script (also known as p.s.) to one of the letters they were sending to my grandad. He wrote back! And so began a long correspondence. They met once, for a few hours in NY, when my granddad was on leave (my Nana was a Navy Nurse stationed in Long Island at the time). Nothing dramatic occurred at that meeting, but when he returned to Texas, he realized how he felt about her. They began to express their love for each other, and to talk about their future together. When he returned from his tour of duty in the Southern Pacific, they got married . . . right after Thanksgiving in 1944. They had spent very little time together, yet they just knew how they felt about each other. They raised 5 kids--four boys (including my dad) and one girl. I know many people feel this way about their parents, but my dad is just about the greatest man in the world (comparative only to Philip), and I have my Nana and Granddad to thank for that. My Granddad passed away from colon cancer 35 years ago, and my Nana never remarried. In fact, two years ago, when I was telling my Nana how happy Philip made me, and how he is my very best friend, she told me she felt the same way about my Granddad, and that she still talked to him every night . . . how strong her love was, and how strong her faith must have been, that he was waiting for her in heaven, listening to everything she told him.

And so, even though the loss of this great woman is hard to bear, I take great comfort in knowing she and my granddad are together again with Uncle Jack, Aunt Floss, and all who have left before us, and that they are there, talking and laughing, and watching us all. My mom says that for every death, there is new life . . . and I believe this is true. It will take two babies to fill part of the hole left by Mary Frances Berry Dwyer, and I know they come into a family full of love, life and laughter. How lucky we are all to be a part of it . . . how lucky these two babies will be. (Just a note, we are not having twins although we would be doubly blessed . . . my cousin Eileen is pregnant with her 2nd child and due in June.)

"God Bless us Everyone . . ."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I heart basil.

I'm sure everyone has their favorite herb. For me, there is nothing like the taste of fresh basil. I think it makes pretty much anything taste better. Case and point? Dinner tonight. Baby Lehr is quite demanding already, and I find myself quickly going from a little hungry to absolutely starving. Tonight was no exception. I wanted to eat dinner, and so had to make it quickly. I decided on an easy TBLT (that's turkey bacon, lettuce and tomato) with avocado. But, since my early elementary days, where I ate cheese and Miracle Whip sandwiches every day, I have really not been a fan of mayonnaise. But, standard BLT sandwiches have mayo on them (I don't think they would taste very good with mustard). So, I spiced up some reduced-fat hellman's with a clove of garlic, some freshly chopped basil and a little bit of lemon juice to thin it out. I also baked the sourdough rolls on my pizza stone for a couple of minutes, which made a huge difference over toasting. The rolls turned out crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. SO good. Dinner was done in less than 20 minutes, and was delicious. Definitely let the mayo sit to combine all of the flavors for at least an hour--I didn't, and the garlic taste was still pretty strong. However, I do think the mayo was what made the sandwiches so good. If I weren't so full, I would already be craving another one . . .

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nesting . . .

I've already been delinquent in my regular postings. I have no real excuse, but it does seem like time flies by at ridiculous speeds. We have a lot going on in the next few weeks, so I am trying to save up my energy for it all. I thought my energy would return after my first trimester ended, but I've found I'm still pretty exhausted. Hopefully I'll get some bursts soon. Other than that, I have been feeling pretty well. To my relief, both my appetite and my penchant for cooking has returned. For a while, the idea of cooking anything was pretty unappealing. And as many of you know, I LOVE to cook. I love to try new recipes, and I find that cooking is a good outlet, along with running, for keeping me sane. I was lucky enough to be raised in a household of good cooks. My dad is exceptionally creative, and loves to see how things work together in a pan. He rarely replicates a dish exactly as before, because he doesn't follow too many recipes, and he cooks by smell and feel. It is always delicious. My mom is hands down the most excellent baker I have ever met. Her cookies are always perfect looking and heavenly tasting. She makes delectable pies, amazing pizza dough, and some of the best spaghetti sauce I have ever tasted. Though I did not get the best of my mother (I rarely bake--it requires far too much measuring for someone who likes to not measure anything), I aspire to the adventuresome nature of both of my parents and am constantly looking for new recipes to add to my repertoire. Thankfully, Philip is an honest and willing guinea pig.

The point to this long description is that I am happy to have regained my sense of curiosity in the kitchen. In the spirit of that, I thought, in addition to posting updates and pictures of baby #1, I would also share some recipes I have tried and liked. There are a couple of reasons for this--one is to talk about food :), and the other is to share recipes. Though I could spend hours sifting through sites for the best recipes, realistically, I don't have time for that, so I cook what I know, and that gets BORING!

So far this week, I've tried three recipes that have been successful, but don't worry, I'll only share one at a time. Most of my recipes come from the BEST website What I love most about this site is that people like me rate and review the recipes and make suggestions on how to improve the recipe. I spend hours on the website reading recipes and their reviews, and I have never been disappointed in what I've tried. But, the first recipe I will share is one I actually found on the Food Network, and it goes against my nature, because it is for cupcakes! The recipe is courtesy of Giada DeLaurentis, and is divine. These Raspberry Cream Cupcakes are light and fluffy thanks to the egg whites beat into the cake mix. The frosting (which is always my favorite part) is also so light and fluffy, comprised of only powdered sugar, whipping cream and fresh mashed raspberries (YUM!) Philip licked the frosting bowl, and as of yet, has had three cupcakes, so you know they were a hit. Here is the link to the recipe. I HIGHLY recommend it. Not only delicious, but also pretty light and figure friendly (always a plus with cupcakes!) Just a cook's note--I only used one pint of raspberries (they weren't on sale at the grocery store today) which was plenty for the frosting. I also just spread the frosting on top (easier to eat), and I found that it made MORE than enough frosting to amply frost 18 cupcakes. Next time, I will do the same, but buy extra raspberries for the top of the cupcakes (for presentation).

Happy Eating!