Memories... Like Mom Made!

Memories... Like Mom Made!
Out of dark moments, flowers grow.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Baby Steps... then Big Girl Leaps...

Throughout my grief journey I have been making baby steps toward recovery, acceptance, and healing. At first I wouldn't get out of bed and barely ate... Then after a few days I started interacting with the family that filled our house and spent more time out of bed than in it.

Then I started to venture outside of the house. Mostly to complete details for Leila's funeral. As the weeks went by I started doing a little more, started eating again, started talking to people without crying at the drop of a hat, I even started talking about Leila in a happy reflective way.

I was making baby steps toward healing.

Then a week or so ago I started slipping backwards again. I felt stuck. I just couldn't move forward.

I think I was scared.

Scared that moving forward means letting go of Leila forever.

Sometimes I feel like everyone that once knew her has already forgotten and moved on and that they expect me to as well. I feel like it is up to me to keep her memory alive and that when I do finally move forward, she will be gone forever. I feel this tug of war with my heart and mind happening... And my heart tears in two.

I have been showed such compassion and love from people as we dealt with our loss. I have been told amazing stories of how Leila has touched lives from all over the world. I have watched as my daughter made an impact on the world that so many people wish to make and fail to do.

My daughter is my hero.

My daughter possessed a strength that I pray every day to find.

I want to find the strength to move forward. I want to be happy again. I want to be able to think of her, and write about her, and not cry as I am now.

I want to be able to accept what has happened and move on.

But I think I finally realized that I am holding on to her too tightly. I am so scared that if I let go she will be gone forever, that I have failed to see the bigger picture.

She is everywhere.

In the people she touched, in "Leila's Resolution" that has taken full affect in the state of Illinois, in Leila's Legacy (a charity that provides hand knit and crocheted hats to premature babies), in my son, my husband, and my self. She is there.

And I am so closed off to see it because I can't get past the fact that her body is no longer here.

So I decided to try and remedy that.

If moving forward won't come naturally, I will force myself to take a few more steps.

Some big steps.

Yesterday marked 3 months since my angel got her wings.

3 months.

A lot can happen in 3 months, but to be honest, I don't remember much of the last 3 months because I have been so withdrawn and so focused on my pain.

I don't want to be that anymore.

I finally scheduled my 6 week postpartum appointment (only 2 months late) for yesterday.

And I packed away some of her things.

I didn't get it all done, but a friend and I sat there together and pulled out every piece of clothing and folded them and put them in a space bag...

And then sealed it up.

And in a way, each time we finished one pile of clothes, I felt a little bit lighter.

A few things happened as I went through the piles and piles of clothing:

I had hope for the future, and for future babies.

And I realized that there are beautiful babies all around me that I can enjoy and spoil as I would have spoiled Leila.

Sure it's not the same.

There will never, ever be another Leila.

But I have a lot of love to give.

And I don't want to be sad anymore.

Yesterday was a day of

Friday, April 22, 2011

Southwestern Eggrolls and Green Chile Dipping Sauce

In my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri, there is this awesome restaurant called Perkins. It's a chain restaurant, but they don't seem to have them out here.

Well one of my favorite things about Perkins (besides the fact that they are open 24 hours! woo hoo!) is an appetizer called "Mini Chimis"... Let me just tell you how amazing these things are... They are crispy and flaky on the outside (I think they are rolled in tortillas), and stuffed with veggies and deliciousness on the inside... Basically a southwest style egg roll. Like Chili's version, but WAY better.

But Chili's southwest eggrolls are a good second.

That was, until I made these last night...

Sorry Chili's. I still <3 you though. No worries.

Ok so I basically knew what ingredients to put in these little guys from eating them a million times, but I compared a few other recipes online to see if I was on the right track, and after reading other people's recipes making them various ways, I decided to use egg rolls wrappers instead of tortillas. That was a good choice! The rest I just kind of went with. I wanted to make a big batch so rather than measure out portions of a can here or there, I just made it so that I would use up what I was working with. It worked out well.

Oh and the dipping sauce... You know the sauce I am talking about. That creamy, delicious, cool green dipping sauce with just a hint of spice...

I got the idea of using cream cheese and green chiles from a recipe online, but the addition of sour cream, cilantro, and lime juice sends it over the top. It was so good I licked it straight off my fork. In fact, I think I am going to whip up another batch of these just so I can eat more of this sauce!

Did I mention that these are easy peasy? They weren't as quick as I would have liked, but I kind of dawdled along and chatted with my friend while making them, so it could have just been me.

Who am I kidding? It was definitely me. A quick efficient cook could bust these babies out in 30 minutes.

Southwestern Eggrolls

Chicken breast (I used a 1.5 lb package of boneless skinless chicken breast strips, but I will tell you know you won't need them all unless you decide to make a huge batch and freeze some like I had intended... But you know what, you probably want to make a double batch anyway because they puppies won't stay on the table for long!!)

1 red bell pepper, diced
a handful chopped green onion
some minced garlic
1 can drained black beans
1 cup (ish) frozen yellow corn
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed (you can totally use fresh, but I didn't have it... so there)
Chili powder
1/2 can chopped green chilies
1 cup monterey jack or colby jack cheese (or even pepper jack if you want a kick to your egg rolls)

Egg roll wrappers (or if you have an aversion to egg roll wrappers, use flour tortillas... it's your choice. I won't judge you.)

Oil for frying/cooking

Sprinkle the chicken breast(s) with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I used white pepper because I am slightly obsessed... But use what you have.

Heat skillet with a few tablespoons olive oil. Cook the chicken until no longer pink and cooked through.

Remove the chicken and set aside. Let rest for about five minutes and then shred or dice into small pieces.

Add the red pepper and green onions to the skillet and cook until soft. Then stir in the beans, corn, spinach, spices, and green chilies. Add the diced chicken.

Cook for about 3-4 minutes. You want to make sure that everything has come together. Mine kind of thickened and the "juice" became more incorporated into the rest of the mixture so it wasn't so runny.

Put a little water into a bowl. Lay out your egg roll wrappers one at a time and place a couple spoonfuls of the mixture about an inch from one edge. Take care to leave space on the edges to roll the wrap. Tuck in the edges and roll up tightly, wetting the edges with your fingers.

Once they are all wrapped up you can either freeze them to fry later, or pop into the fryer and fry until crispy and golden brown.

While they are frying, make this sauce. Don't try and size it up from the ingredients... You have no clue. Trust me. It's simply delicious and compliments the southwestern eggrolls perfectly... But you can always just add a tablespoon or so of chili powder to some ranch for a good dipping sauce...

And I guess that would be perfectly acceptable...

But we don't want to settle at perfectly acceptable. Do we?


We want excellence.

Which is why you are going to proceed with this next recipe.

Green Chili Dipping Sauce

1 8 oz block cream cheese (soften or pop in the microwave at 10 second intervals until soft enough to mash)
1 cup salsa verde
a small handful chopped cilantro
a couple dollops of sour cream... about 1/4 cup perhaps?
a few squirts lime juice
the rest of the can of chilies (you knew I wasn't going to put that to waste, huh?)

Combine all of these items in a blender, food processor, or if you are like me: your amazing Magic Bullet Blender... Man I love that thing!!!! Process until smooth and creamy. Then season with things like cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. It didn't take much for me.... It was ridiculously good.

When The Stars Come Out...

During the day I try to be strong.

I try to act like my heart isn't smashed in to a million pieces.

I try and keep it together for my son: I act like any other parent - taking him to the park when I can, going on walks, drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, making lunch together, having tickle wars, doing all of the things that a "normal" parent should do.

I smile strongly at the faces with sad eyes, I pretend I am being strong and that everything is okay.

But when night time rolls around and it's just me with my feelings and my keyboard (or my journal, thanks to a friend who thought I should pen down some personal thoughts), I am not collected at all.

I am a grieving mother.

A mess.

I have these gangly awkward empty arms that long to hold my tiny baby.

I have this hole in my heart that I can't even begin to describe.

And I have these fears.

So many fears.

How do I even begin to address them? I am terrified to let Landon out of my sight because he is the only child I have left and the closest thing I have to Leila, not to mention he is my baby. But now he has this added pressure: he has to be healthy and perfect, no matter what... Because I can't bear the thought of anything ever being wrong with him.

Is this different than before? No, not really. I have always cared for and worried about the safety of my child...

But I will be the first to admit that I have gone to extremist levels - in my head at least... The fears creep on me when I least expect it. One little cough or sputter, a scrape, a fall, or an attempt at a new skill... I find myself fighting an internal battle between letting my child be a normal two year old, and sheltering him from any potential harm no matter how large or small.

Don't worry. I choose the first. Though the fears are there, I am finding ways to deal with them. I still keep a close and watchful eye, but I try not to coddle... I don't want my son to grow up emotionally crippled because I am too afraid to let him experience life. But I can't even begin to describe the overwhelming power of these fears.

I can't remember life before them.

Was I this afraid of a simple cough before Leila passed away? Was I this scared of a jungle gym?

Is this normal?

A couple weeks ago, while I was home visiting my family, I took Landon to a park to let him play. I was distracted while talking to my cousin and Landon ventured off to play on a climbing tower... Before I knew it he was halfway up the monkey bars. When I turned around and saw him, my heart jumped into my throat. At that moment I realized two things. 1) My baby boy is growing up, and 2) Sometimes I am going to have to let go a little in order for him to grow.

Maybe I am growing up, too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Little Break... And Now I am Back

I am sure you have noticed that it has been a while since I last posted.

I went on vacation to get away and see family and what not.

I was hoping it would help with the healing process. In a way I think it may have. But there are still so many things that instantly bring tears to my eyes. I know that is to be expected, but I guess I don't even know how I am supposed to feel.

I guess all I can really say is:

I'm back.

I can't wait to post more recipes and tutorials to share. See you all later!