Friday, May 11, 2012

Things my daughter taught me

It has been six months since Caitrin came so briefly into this world. Happy Birthday, my little girl.

There are days when it feels like it's been only a few weeks, and other times I cannot remember life before this loss. It has been hard. Really hard. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that. There have been meltdowns, lots of them. There will be lots more. And that is okay.

But I have also experienced gratitude. I wish with all my being my Caitrin was a bubbling six-month-old and that all I had to complain about was sleepless nights and balancing being a working mom. I'd give anything to change history. But I can't. And given that, I wouldn't give up any of my experience of my daughter, even with all of the pain. The love I have for her, and will always have for her, makes the pain bearable. I wouldn't trade that love just to escape the pain. She is worth all of it.

There is peace in that feeling, the knowledge that no matter how much you wouldn't have chosen this life, you wouldn't change it, either. It is my experience, and Caitrin is the best gift I've ever gotten. Her time here was far too short, but she had a big impact.

On her six month birthday and two days before Mother's Day, I can't shower her with gifts and she can't give me sloppy kisses (which is all I really wanted). Instead, I recognize and honor the gifts that she has since given me. Here's to you, Caitrin, and all I've learned from you and my experience of Motherhood.

A mother's love is pure and strong and the best thing I have ever experienced.

Family is all that really matters.

I have the best partner a woman could ask for in my husband. We survived this, and we can survive anything because we are stronger and our love is stronger. I love you, Peter.

Say "I Love You" often, and mean it. It will make your heart sing. No one ever regretted saying "I Love You" too much.

Appreciate the small things in life.

Don't fuss over trivial things that won't matter tomorrow or next week or next year. And thank you, Caitrin, because it is now easy to see what these things are!

Friends and family are there for you. It's okay to ask for help. That is what friends are for, and it is freeing to let go of the pride that you can go it alone.

Don't rush through life. Linger over conversations with friends, family and strangers. Your life will be better for a moment spent connecting with someone. Later, it won't' matter if you were late to an appointment, but you will remember the time spent with another person.

Be gentle with yourself. Take care of yourself in the way you would take care of a loved one.

You are a parent even if you have never watched your child look up at you adoringly.

Some people get it, others don't. Make room in your life for the ones who do.

It's okay to be really, really angry sometimes. Let yourself feel whatever you need to feel, acknowledge it, and then work on healing.

Focus on what you truly love about your life, and say goodbye to the rest. The simplicity is refreshing.

You have a lot less control than you think you do. Best to make peace with that.

Life goes on, even when you're not ready for it to. But it's okay for it to go on without you for a little while; it'll be there waiting when you're ready.

I am not alone. There are people who have walked this path before me, with me, and behind me. I feel blessed that there is a community of women who are there for me. We are stronger together.

I love you, Caitrin, and miss you every day. You are the greatest gift I've ever received. I am eternally grateful for all you've taught me these last six months, and look forward to all you will teach me in the future.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Spring has been in full force around here for several weeks. We've had some really warm weather, followed now by several days of much-needed rain and cooler temperatures this week. You can find beets alongside strawberries at the farmer's market, a visual and edible marker of transition between winter and summer. I've always loved the feeling of renewal that Spring brings, the feeling that you can shed the heaviness of winter and celebrate longer days of sunshine.

Last weekend we were in Minnesota for Peter's grandmother's memorial service. Even though they had had a mild winter, the 40 and 50 degree temperatures sure felt cold to our Southern bones! It was refreshing to enjoy some cool weather. It was even better to see the whole family together, people we don't see nearly often enough.

Katharine "Tinker" Roe was 97 years old, and Boy! Did she have some stories! It was so nice to share stories of her long life on Belfield Farm, to hear about Peter's dad when he was young and stories of his summers on Sunfish Lake. Tinker's cottage was filled with pictures. They rested on every available surface, and told her family's story going back generations. You could see young saplings in older photographs, and compare them to the large pine trees standing guard outside today. I found a picture of her brother, Richard, who was killed in Pearl Harbor. Peter looks just like him. Now this picture will reside in our home, we are the keeper of its story. It is a big honor.

It was a bittersweet goodbye to Tinker's cottage and all of the memories it held for the family. It's like closing a chapter in your life, one you'll never be truly ready to be done with. Our last moments there were reflective and peaceful. We took one last family photo. It was sunny and warm outside-the warmest since we'd been in town-and we're all smiling. The trees were in bloom and irises were starting to poke through. I think that's how Tinker would have wanted us to remember it. And her. In the springtime of life.

I think a risk you run with a food blog is that people assume you eat glamorous food every day. We returned home Sunday evening with enough time to make dinner. In our fridge we had carrots, brussels sprouts and beets from the Farmer's Market the weekend prior. So, roasted root vegetables it was. It was probably the last of these vegetables from our market for the season; soon we'll be turning to tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. It was a perfect transitional meal: hearty winter vegetables, but a light and colorful dinner to welcome spring. Simple and satisfying.

We'll miss Tinker and Belfield Farm, but will carry them in our hearts. Where it is always Springtime.

Roasted Vegetables

I could write a very detailed recipe here, but I have faith that you, dear reader, can find a hundred recipes for roasted vegetables, and probably all better than this. I share this with you only as inspiration for a simple meal to celebrate the shift in the seasons. I felt obliged to share something, so here you go...

Brussels sprouts, about a pound, halved
Carrots, about a pound, quartered lengthwise, then halved
Beets, peeled, halved and cut into wedges
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Dill (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scatter the vegetables in two roasting pans. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the vegetables are tender but not mushy and are starting to caramelize on the edges, roughly 45 minutes, perhaps longer if you left the beets rather large.

Finish with Balsamic vinegar on all or some of the vegetables. Toss some dill with the carrots, if desired.