Saturday, January 22, 2011

Speechless (Almost): Blondies for the Guests at my Virtual Shower

The other day, I was whining about never being thrown a shower by friends, about feeling less than enthusiastic about a well-intentioned work shower that was going to be thrown for me in the middle of a politically messy leave-taking.  JeCaThRe, who is one of my few IRL friends who reads my blog, decided to throw me a virtual shower at her own blog (Bread, Wine, Salt), and invite all of the people who read and comment here (or simply who lurk here) to offer their gifts and best wishes for the anticipated arrival of our little one.

JeCaThRe tells the story of our friendship a little bit differently than I do, of course: we agree that I was originally college friends with her husband, but we part ways on the point where she talks about how she admired me and friended me on my blog ... I had, longer than she had known, admired her blog, her smart and honest and unapologetic writing, her faith, her strength through her own perinatal loss, her leadership, her compassion, her wide ranging knowledge about so many things (and eagerness to learn about three times that much; I feel sometimes like I read her Cliff notes so that my brain doesn't leak out my ear).  We agree again, though, that over the past five years, the friendship has become ours as our sons, born around the same time, have also gotten to know each other, and as much as I am still her husband's friend, too, she's right; in the unlikely event of divorce, she'd get custody of me.  ;)

Honestly, this virtual event has left me speechless (not easy to do for a former graduate student in English literature, even if I am sort of people-shy in real life).  Everyone offered their best wishes for a safe delivery, and said some incredibly supportive things about their confidence in my ability to handle the transition to a two-child household, about what they admire about me ... honestly, it left me glowing.  And there were gifts of the best kind: Melissa from You Found What in There, heroic BLM to a recently-arrived preemie, posted a virtual gift that moved me to tears: her girls will be offering up three acts of service in thanksgiving for the safe arrival of this baby.  Serenity, who is a mother and runner and amazing secondary IF survivor, offered up her recipe for penne in vodka sauce, to re-empower me in the kitchen when I come home: to bring me back to the place where I feel like I'm in control, even when everything feels like it's spiraling out of control (I so often feel much more Zen online, S., than I do IRL!).  InBetween, a university professor and IF/loss survivor now pregnant with her little girl, is going to deliver red velvet cupcakes made from my recipe to a woman down the street who is due just a few weeks after she is, to try to make friends, or at least to test the waters to begin finding her community of moms.  Rebecca, from The road less traveled, who is 9 weeks pregnant with a donor embryo after losing her own little miracle at 22 weeks this year, gave her recipe for chicken shawarma and blessings for the safe arrival of my little one.  Athena, from A Field of Dreams, left a post for Greek Honey Cookies, traditionally served to visitors to the newborn.  K. from Pull Up Your Potty Seat, who is 7.5 months pregnant with twins and still chasing a two year old little girl, left me an 8x10, that I'm uploading here for you all to admire.  TasIVFer, also now pregnant after a loss, and bravely taking her pregnancy one day and one breath at a time, came all the way from Tasmania with a table full of party food that she compares to me as she's gotten to know me online.  N brought a pea pesto and a wonderful link to a website for creative food ideas.  I can't even describe how amazing reading these posts has felt for me, and I hope that every one of these bloggers (and those of you who have attended my virtual shower in anonymity for so many reasons) knows how much they are loved, no matter how long they've been reading here, and how much I appreciate these incredible gifts.  I have never felt more celebrated and supported; sitting here, I'm somewhere between tears and a broad grin.  JeCaThRe, this is the best shower I could imagine having.

I didn't participate in ICLW this month, because I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to be responsible about commenting: I didn't know if I'd have a newborn in my arms, or what I'd be doing this week.  But this virtual shower has reminded me, yet again, about the incredibly powerful effect of online community; many of these women have been with me from early on in this pregnancy, cheering me on and comforting me when I felt like no one else would understand.  They know that the answer to the question "So, are you excited?" is fraught with complication for me.  They get why I still have a hard time washing a Boppy cover, for example, and throwing away the gift receipt.  And from all over the world, they will be with me in spirit through these last days, through my labor, through tenuous days of new motherhood (provided that all goes well), and I hope long after that, as I look forward to celebrating their milestones, and I continue to navigate the role of parent, trying to figure out, each day, what I will do with my "one wild and precious life."

Thank you so much, to all of you, for being here, and being where you are, for all of us.

I baked a treat for the party, too: not cupcakes, as I'd originally promised, but buttery, nutty, chocolate-filled blondies.  As much as I love brownies, sometimes they're just too dark -- you're craving something brighter, lighter, with more variation in texture, sweet but complex: something the blogging world -- and this community in particular -- offers beautifully.


1 c. pecans or walnuts (4 ounces)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, melted/cooled
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 t. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped white chocolate, or 3 oz. each white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on large rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer nuts to cutting board to cool; chop coarsely and set aside.

While nuts toast, cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in chocolate and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

Bake until top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes; do not overbake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.
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  1. Thank you so much for your incredibly kind words on my my friend are an amazing woman and I feel so blessed to had been able to follow your journey. You have encouraged me in the best & worst of times and for that I will forever be thankful. So excited for you as you are about to embark on the birth of your are absolutely living this one wild and wonderful life in a fantastic way! The blondies look fantastic BTW, I think we might make these tonight, thanks for sharing:)

  2. I loved your shower as well even though I spent most of yesterday in the ER with the flu, lol. Fun times. I'm soooo looking forward to the arrival of your little one and know that in my time of great need your anti-nausea muffins meant more then you will ever know.

  3. I am sorry that I did not have time to get my post up. I am wishing you all the best for the safe arrival of Bean.

  4. I'm sick that I missed this, but am going to spend some extra time tonight before I go to bed sending lots and lots of positive vibes/payers/etc. your way. I'm also going to cook one of your recipes this week in your honor and I am sure we'll toast you and how sweet you've been to me before we eat up. :)

  5. Although I missed it on Friday, I do have my "gift" to you up on my blog. Sorry it's so late!


  6. Just found your blog....

    Take it easy, and make the most of the little time left before your precious bundle arrives. Had only I known how difficult the first month or so was, I might have done differently myself. I worked right up until the day before I was taken to hospital to have my little one !

    Loads of good vibes for a smooth birth and safe arrival

  7. Dang it! I'm so sorry I missed your virtual shower! I've been really bad about keeping up with the blogosphere lately.

    Can't wait to hear news soon, soon, soon!

  8. What a great idea! Wishing you all the best on your impending birth and I'm looking forward to making these blondies. (Which I much prefer to brownies!) They look delicious!


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