40? Really?

So, I turned 40 at the beginning of the month.  I am still trying to wrap my head around what that means.  I just don’t feel like I thought 40 would feel like when I was 20 or even 30.  I really thought there would be more of “me” back.  Now, nearly 5 years into motherhood, I still lack the physical form, the mental capacity and the creative spark of my pre-pregnancy self.  I see glimmers of that person beginning to shine through, but the vision is still quite transparent.  I know that I will not be returning to who I was 5 years ago, but I am anxious to see a more of the outline of who I am becoming.

We just took this family photo a few weeks ago in our backyard.  We were supposed to include a family photo with Henrik’s preschool paperwork and the other ones were quite old.

This was the only time Henrik fell asleep in the backpack.  He also only fell asleep once in the bike trailer.

He was also asleep in this photo.  But, he nearly only slept when attached to one of us at this age.

I have a few photos of me with Henrik during his first year of life.  But after a year, I really felt that I should be back in shape and I began to shun the camera.  Henrik turned 2, then 3 and then 4 and I was still running out of the picture frame.  So, this spring I made a pact with myself—A Photo By Forty.  I am actively making progress toward my goal, but I am far from achieving it.  It was still really a mental struggle for me to orchestrate and agree to be in the family photo.  If it weren’t for the preschool requirement, I probably would have put it off longer.  But now I do have that photo.  And, in the future, I will be happy to reflect on who we were as a family at that time.

The other part of my birthday that wasn’t what I had imagined was that we weren’t even all together as a family.  Rob was in Eugene and Henrik and I were in Portland.   I asked Henrik what kind of birthday cake I should make.  He thought that a cake with lavender whip cream would be best.  I really didn’t know if cream would whip if it had been heated and infused with lavender, which was the only way I could imagine making lavender whip cream.  I decided to try the next best thing.

I made the Velvet Vanilla Bundt Cake, though not in a Bundt form, from The Grand Central Baking Book for Henrik’s birthday last year.  We all loved it.  I thought that would be a good base recipe.  The recipe calls for 2C of whole milk.  I heated the milk with a 1/4C of dried lavender buds the night before.  I strained it and put it in the fridge.  It was so bitter, and potent, that I only used 1/3 of the lavender milk with 2/3 plain whole milk.  I also bumped the sugar by a 1/4C to counter the bitterness from the lavender.  I used a 50/50 mix with the rest of the leftover lavender milk and cream for the glaze.  I sprinkled dried lavender buds on top after pouring on the glaze.

It was delicious, but I erred a little too heavily on the side of caution.  I could have added more of the lavender milk to really enhance the lavender flavor.  I love lavender, which is why I am such a huge fan of Ruby Jewel’s Honey Lavender ice cream.  It doesn’t just have a hint of lavender.  The flavor is round and it fills your whole mouth.  I am envisioning more lavender flavor the next time I make a Lavender Cake.  But, the delicious lavender cake was only part of the evening.

Henrik had also asked for me to make pizza for dinner.  I make pizza regularly.  I enjoy the process and the end result.  I worked on the pizza after I had the cake in the oven.  In reality, I spent hours in the kitchen and hours ignoring Henrik.  By the time the pizza was ready, dinner was quite late and Henrik had come completely unglued.  I had destroyed the kitchen and Rob wasn’t around to clean up my creative chaos.  Henrik and I were exhausted and we were the only two around to celebrate.

I was so glad that I had made myself this birthday present.

I filled it with dried lavender buds.  I bought the lavender for my birthday cake and for the eye pillow at the same time.  The bulk lavender from People’s smelled exquisite.  I sooo needed the extra encouragement to relax that night and I have used it every night since.  I will post a tutorial for the eye pillow soon.  I bought the fabric at Bolt quite a while ago and it was the perfect fit for this project.

Henrik spent some time during the late afternoon at his art station. He then presented me with a birthday gift from him.  It was a crayon drawing of some trucks.  It was so heart warming that even without Rob around to encourage him to make me a birthday card, Henrik knew how to fill my heart with love.  Happy Birthday to you whenever you greet your next one.  What brings you joy that day may not be what you had planned.