A while back, I came across the fabulous Mrs. Jen B of the Misadventures of Mrs. B. She's a member of The Red Dress Club and a fabulous writer.
What I didn't realize, at first, is that she's also an amazing food blogger. She's like the blogging triple threat: cooking, writing AND photography.
Her blog is full of insane recipes. For things like homemade beignets. And she taught me to make a roux. Which made my homemade mac and cheese go beyond good to insane.
You can imagine how excited I was when she agreed to visit Mandyland. I was kinda hoping for some Lemon Olive Oil Pound Cake, but she's being nice by helping me stick to Weight Watchers and sending this instead.
Trust me. It's better than virtual pound cake.
PS Grab a tissue.
It's as if only seconds have passed instead of twenty years since the first time I held a newborn.
But not just any newborn. My baby sister.
Like just about every girl who has nothing but a stinky younger brother, I'd wanted a sister for as long as I could remember. And from the moment I found out my mom was pregnant I prayed. I practically said novenas and lit candles in church. I'd been stuck with a pesky little brother for almost nine years at that point. I had a sister coming to me, by God, and I was going to claim what was mine.
And on that big day, the day we were awoken at dawn to tell us The Time Had Come and we still had to go to school anyway, I got my wish. Dad told us so when we came home for lunch, and I was overjoyed. A sister. Her name was Stephanie.
That night we went to the hospital to visit. My Dad handed her to me. The baby I'd so wanted, even if she wasn't really mine.
My heart? Hopelessly gone. It was all hers. She was so tiny and helpless and she trusted me, even if she didn't know it. I wanted to spend every last minute with her.
Lucky for me, I was Very Mature For My Age (11) and over time we did, indeed, spend a lot of time together. My parents were so smart, spacing their kids out the way they did (they had another one four years later).
It was definitely a crash course in child rearing.
I learned that you will find yourself doing things you'd never considered in saner moments if it means that the baby will stop crying.
I learned not to swing a baby over my head unless I'm sure they didn't just have a bottle (think "The Exorcist" meets "Carrie").
I learned that poop can, in fact, go straight up a baby's back and out the top of their onesie. Do you know what that does to an 11-year old's psyche the first time they have to clean that up?
I learned that babies don't all start talking at the same age. She didn't start making sense until she was more than two years old - and then we found out she could read (did I mention that she's a genius?).
She was the textbook definition of 'willful'. I chased her down the street after she walked out the door in nothing but a diaper and a tee shirt because I told her should couldn't have a snack until she ate her lunch. One night I sat up to observe how she was escaping her crib in order to wander around the house, and caught her just as she flung herself head first over the rail. My best friend nicknamed her "Mafia Princess" because she just had this way about her...like if she didn't get what she wanted, heads would roll.
I look at her now and I think of all the years between that first night and today. The pleasure and honor of watching her discover and grow, right up to the nail-biting terror of riding in the car behind the one she's driving way too fast. It doesn't seem right sometimes. Wasn't I just changing her diaper yesterday? (And yes, I did tell on her for driving so fast. It's my job.)
I'm so glad to have had the experience I did with her and my baby brother - it makes the thought of having my own babies somewhat less frightening. Between Rob and I, at least one of us has a clue, even if it has been a while since I've been in the trenches. And one day I'll thank Stephanie in my heart for every mile I paced with her in my arms, every time I ever had to get the smell of spit-up out of my favorite sweater or figure out how to get her to eat her food when she was feeling particularly ornery.
It wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but she was the greatest teacher I've ever had.
12 hours ago