Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Baby teeth

My oldest daughter just lost a tooth. She has been wiggling these teeth for ages and has at least 2 more that are loose. Soon she will be done losing all her baby teeth, her faith in the tooth fairy already diminished. She is approaching her teen years, proving it with emotional upheaval and occasional but certain confidence that she is right and I am wrong.

Rewind 10 years, and you have my youngest, a baby who is still cutting her first tooth, crying when it becomes tender. She is still working on early milestones like sitting upright. She has yet to say her first word, draw a picture, wave goodbye. She still has so much to experience in her life.

Watching these two girls, ten years apart in age, it amazes me how quickly time passes. It seems only yesterday that my first child was that age. She developed severe asthma starting with an infection at 2 months old, and we became very familiar with her doctor's office, sometimes driving an hour each direction almost daily when she was at her worst. We'd spend time at home giving her albuterol treatments every four hours around the clock, and barely slept in between for worrying about her breathing, watching her chest retract in an effort to force air back out of her lungs. We narrowly escaped a hospital trip on New Years Eve 1997, and fell asleep long before midnight, exhausted. She was our first, and we didn't know anything different.

Now you would never know that she was such a sick baby. She plays softball, has her own garden, and is a girl scout. She plays piano. She takes care of her sisters. She has grown up, maybe not all the way, but so much in the last 10 years. She is losing her baby teeth, because she isn't a baby anymore. And I know I will eventually have to let her grow up and move on.

It has been especially important to us, knowing she is our last, to enjoy our youngest daughter's "babyhood." It is all too obvious when I look at my girls that time is precious. I am afraid I will turn around and there won't be any "baby teeth" in our house at all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I have a cookbook, passed down through 3 generations of women. Its loose pages are tattered, the corners folded and worn from time and use. The words of the recipes are smeared and greasy from ingredients spilled years ago. The pie book, as it has come to be called, is coveted in my family to the point of contention.

It began as my great grandmother's cookbook. She was well known for her excellent pie-making abilities. My grandma, too, was a great cook, though she didn't enjoy sharing the kitchen as my own mom did. However, I did get to make gingerbread cookies with my grandma every Christmas. Grandma made the dough, and rolled it out. Before anything else, my brother and I had to make a big Santa for each cousin. Then we could choose sleighs, camels, stars, trees, angels, bells and reindeer, as we wished. After they were baked, we decorated them elaborately with frosting. And of course licked our fingers and picked at the dough. (What joy!) When my grandma moved in with us, and after her death, my mom and I kept the Christmas cookie tradition, and the 2 of us have added English Toffee as a must for Christmas, as well as the traditional gingerbread and butter cookies.

When I handle the smooth pie book cover, or flip through its yellowing pages, it reminds me of times past, good times passed in the kitchen with my grandma and with my mom. I remember the pies my grandma made for dessert on Sundays, when we had dinner at her house. Ironically, it wasn’t until I grew up and got married before I made my first pie. Since then, though, I have come across a pie crust recipe that can't be beat, along with other pie recipes I have been happy to taste and add to my collection.

The pie book has now been passed down to me, and yesterday my daughters and I made our second pie of the summer. We decided it just isn't summer without at least one pie, and since we couldn't agree on which "one" to make, we chose three. The apple pie took only a couple days to devour, and we are well on our way to finishing the raspberry angel cream pie we made last night. Yum! Our last one will be chocolate cream, by request of my oldest daughter.

Aside from the unfortunate side effects of eating three pies in a week, I love the time I spend with my kids throwing these recipes together. Since they were quite small, I have measured ingredients and let them take turns pouring them in, stirring and exploring what our creations become. They beg to eat the raw dough and sneak it behind my back. It reminds me of my own efforts to eat cookie dough when we baked Christmas cookies at grandma's every year. In an age when our lives center around tv and computers, and our fast pace requires us to calendar in time for each other, it is really nice to spend time with my girls. I hope they will carry memories of making pies with their mom with them as they grow older, and enjoy making things with their own kids as much as I enjoy it now.