I braced her Lulu close in an effort to soothe her back to sleep for the second half of her much-needed afternoon nap. I held her and swayed from side to side, back and forth in a rythmn that is so familiar to mothers; a movement I often find myself doing when I hear any baby crying or when I am talking to a friend who’s holding a tiny babe. As her heated sobs quickly gave way to sleep, I squeezed her even tighter. Her light hair tickled my checks and I craned back bit to see if she was sleeping. I had stopped feeling the tick-tick-tick of her lashes, but sometimes she snuggles, eyes open, waiting to pop her little head out from under my chin to grab my nose or flash a big, silly smile. But as I pulled back a bit to peer at her, her heavy head stayed perfectly still on my shoulder.
I stopped swaying and held her; breathing in her sweet baby smell, letting our tacky sweat blend together, letting her soft, purposeful exhales swirl around my neck and collarbone. I let my eyes wander around her room and they rested on a photo that my sister had taken of her when she was only three precious days old.
Perhaps it was because it was her birthday but I felt that predictable sting in my eyes and tingle across my sinuses, and whatever that is, deep in the very center of my chest that cramps down at moments like these, tighten up and twinge.
I hate to use the word bittersweet to describe the emotion; although it defines the too-quick growing up of babies and children perfectly. It is a well-fitting adjective but there is really nothing bitter about any of it. Lulu’s turning one is ordinarily extraordinary. It’s such a blessing to have gotten to watch her grow, thrive, and learn these past 365 days. With every day I get to spend with my children, my love for them becomes more deeply- rooted and my desire to give them the world grows stronger.
As Lulu turns one and I look back at the last year, and forward into the future, I think about how lucky I am to have her. I can’t wait to watch her actualize her ideas and dreams, to watch her emerge and grow, and to see who she becomes, to make room for her and her needs, and to be the best mom to her I can be.
Yesterday, we had a little birthday barbecue for her with a couple of friends. We kept is small and simple. Our menu was as easy as can be: hot dogs, Burg’s Potato Salad from Molly Wizenburg’s first book A Homemade Life, salad, and, for dessert, Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats from Smitten Kitchen! Kyle stocked up on Lulu Saison and I made Sangria.
I started making sangria last summer after Lulu was born. For my 30th birthday a few of my girlfriends and I had gone for dinner at Toro Bravo in Portland. They had the most amazing looking sangria, but as I was mid-pregnancy with Lu, I was unable to have a glass. I did have a sip of someone else’s and I vowed to myself that that summer, the summer of 2013, would be the summer of sangria! But, once Lu was born things were busy, our backyard was a major work in progress, and I didn’t manage to perfect my recipe.
This year is different. With Lulu being a big one year old, I have a lot more time on my hands for important things like making Sangria. Our backyard, while still a work in progress, is really coming together and the patio is just begging for folks to come kick up their feet with a chilled Sangria in hand. My neighbors have all been called on to help drink the batches I’ve been making over the past few weeks and I think I have a winning recipe. So, without further ado, I officially declare this, the summer of 2014, the Summer of Sangria. Now you know what to expect when you drop by.
SUMMER SANGRIA WITH STRAWBERRIES, PEACHES, CITRUS FRUIT AND GINGER
1/2 orange, sliced
2 small peaches, pitted and sliced into wedges
1/2 cup raspberries
6 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
2” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 bottle cabernet sauvignon
1/2 cup club soda
fresh mint or basil
Begin by making a ginger simple syrup. In a saucepan bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and stir in the sugar and ginger until the sugar has completely dissolved. Simmer and reduce until you have 1/2 cup of syrup. Turn of the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature. Strain and set aside.
Juice half of the lemon and half of the lime, slice the remaining halves of both. Toss both the juice and the slices into a large pitcher along with the orange slices, raspberrries, peach slices, and sliced strawberries. Then pour in the ginger simple syrup, orange juice, pomegranate juice, and the wine. Stir gently to combine. Place the sangria in the refrigerator and allow it to sit for a few hours (any recipes call for letting sangria sit overnight but I prefer it “fresher”).
When you are ready to serve the sangria, add the club soda, stir gently, pour into glasses and garnish with mint or basil!