Jen was born on March 31, 1981, a full 4 weeks early. In the late afternoon that day I had my 8 th month prenatal check up. My dear friend Chris (the same one I talk about in my posts now) took Jay for me while I went to that appointment. The wait was unusually long, and when I finally got to see Dr. Halpin, I told him I was feeling like I was having contractions. As he started to exam me, he joked that he knew I had to wait quite awhile but he didn't think he kept me waiting THAT long. Then he said something like - "humm, you are already dilating a bit. You could go into labor in a week or in 4 weeks. " We talked about a possible date for my c-section. You see, I had Jay 8 days early so he suspected this baby wouldn't wait until it's due date either and we set the date for 3 weeks from then. A week short of my due date. This baby would be a late April baby. I then drove home and when I stopped to pick up Jay, I joked to Chris to stay by the phone in case I kept dilating and went into labor early. I would need her to watch Jay until my in laws could get to our home.
That night, David had a college class. He was enrolled in the prestigious WPI School of Industrial Management - a graduate program and he was the youngest participant to date. It was quite an accomplishment. As he prepared to go to class, I told him I was feeling odd and we talked about what the Dr. had said. David said he really needed to go to class because he had traveled on business and missed a few classes, and if he missed any more, he would have to repeat that course and miss graduation in May. So he assured me that if I needed him, there was a pay phone right outside the classroom and he would call and give me the number just in case I needed it. He called and sure enough, before class was over, I needed it and called him back. I could hear the hushed voices behind him as everyone waited to hear if he would need to leave. They weren't used to young dads taking the program at that time. So he rushed home and took me to the hospital. Because this baby was not due for a month, the neonatal center team was called into action and there was a flurry of activity as they readied an OR and prepared me for a c-section. I was surprisingly calm through it all. I was so excited to be awake for the birth of this baby. Jay was born by an emergency c-section so there wasn't time for an epidural. I was put to sleep and missed his birth by several hours. This time I couldn't wait to be awake when they to see if it was a girl or a boy.
When they finally said "it's a girl" I really thought they were teasing me. After having my rough and tumble little boy, I wanted a little girl so much and they knew that. But there she was. With fuzzy hair and the cutest little nose and 10 fingers and 10 toes - she didn't need any of the neonatal specialists. She was perfect. But by the time she was born and we were settled in recovery and David could get to a phone to call family, it was past midnight. You guessed it. It was April 1st - April Fools Day. When DH got a hold of my parents, my mom thought it was an April fools joke. I wasn't due for weeks after all. And the next morning as we called the rest of the family and friends, we heard the same thing over and over - "yeah sure - ha ha - April Fools." But it wasn't a joke and this sweet little girl was in my arms (and I had the stitches and staples to prove it!)
And we named her Jennifer Lynn. Our family was complete. We felt incredibly blessed to have a little boy and a little girl. One of each.
Jen was the easiest baby. She slept well and fed well. She was happy when she woke up and easy to put down for the night. She waited patiently when I needed to help Jay. And she was so darling. By the time she was one, her hair was coming in the most beautiful shade of auburn and her eyes were a gorgeous green. She has her daddy's dimples - lucky girl!
At times she could be very very shy. When she was 3, I enrolled her in the same pre-school that Jay had attended. The very same one that became a big part of my life for over 20 years. She loved it and loved her friends but despite still being very shy, she was still the easiest child. So happy and cheerful and pleasant to have around. She was my love bug! As I was doing something like cook dinner or fold laundry, she would come to me and say " I need some lovins" and I had to stop and sit in the rocker with her for awhile. Such a tough job!
Around the corner from preschool, was a new dancing school. They had a class for preschoolers that was more about fun and movement than about performance. At first Jen wouldn't let me leave her side, but she didn't want to leave class either. She loved it. Within a few weeks she was telling me to go. The shy little girl was coming out of her shell.
In addition to her dance costumes, Jen loved to dress up and not just for Halloween. We had already nicknamed her our sweet punkin and so I had to make her this costume one year.
When the soccer team needed a mascot for the parade float, Jen loved helping out so I made her this Native American costume. She would play in this for hours.By first grade we had moved to this town and Jen moved on to another larger dance school and she loved every minute of it. She got to wear REAL costumes now.
It was becoming very clear that her long legs were made for dancing.
When she was about 8, Jen asked to please please please please please pleeeeease be allowed to try out for the competitive dance teams. That meant she could take even more classes and try other styles of dance. No surprise to us, she made the team easily and we began to go to local, regional and National Competitions in Myrtle Beach. Luckily for us, DH parents had just retired to a golf community in a suburb not far from the beach and convention center. We made the drive to SC every summer for many years and often combined the trip with vacation stops in place like Williamsburg.
When Jen was old enough, she tried out for Toe - and again, easily made that class as well.
Jen really was a gifted dancer and won many gold medals and trophies. She was the lead in many performances - like Miss Otis - the title of this dance below. Outside of school and family, dance was a HUGE part of Jen's life - by her choice. Her dad and I encouraged her to try sports and other things, and she did, but she always stayed with dance. It was great exercise, the school was a great place for her to hang out and she even started teaching younger girls to dance. She was a great role model.
If Jen had a bad day, she just went to dance and the world was right again. And during the time I would drive her back and forth to dance -several times a week by high school - we had some great talks. I loved watching her dance. It was so much fun. Every year at the recital, Jen's kicks were always the highest even though several girls were much taller than Jen. She really was happiest when she could dance. Some how she managed to fit it all in between school and her after school job all through high school.
Because she was spending so much time at the school which was in a neighboring town, she made a lot of really good friends there, and many like Alyssa, are her close friends to this day. Here they are in the convention center in Myrtle Beach. Alyssa and Jen even danced on a cruise ship to the Bahama's her senior year of high school.
In addition to her close circle of friends at dance, Jen had some great friends in high school and some like Lani and Dave, are still close to her even now, almost 10 years after graduation. They supported her dance and would attend her recitals every June.
A few weeks after graduation, Jen had her last dance recital from that school and she performed a beautiful lyrical solo that moved me to tears. She just glowed!
Dancing taught Jen such poise and grace. She would literally glide across the room. (and leap down the isle's in the grocery store!) She still does now. Glide that is. And I wouldn't be surprised if she leaps in the grocery store every once in awhile when she thinks no one is looking. I know she can still do the splits like no other.
After high school, Jen went off to college and danced there as well. But as much as Jen loved her dance, she didn't love living far from home and decided to not return to the college in the mountains. Jen decided to move on to other things and dance was put away.
Our little girl was growing up. Soon she got to experience new things, like her first new car...
Her friends started getting married. Here at Lani's wedding with Lauren too.
And eventually her best guy friend became her boyfriend ...
Shhh - don't tell Justin or her bunny Honey Bunz - here is our birthday girl with 'the love of my life' as she affectionately calls Brady.
And with Jay and Ang at their reception last May.
With Lani and her new baby.....
So while Jen is no longer our dancin darlin, she is still our darlin, our punkin, her daddy's baby girl and my stinky kid. And I say that with love.
Here are a few photo's from the birthday celebration we had last night. Jen and her Mamma.
And with her SIL Ang and niece to be, Liliana. Jen is already planning to teach Liliana how to dance.
Happy Birthday Baby girl! May this be the best year yet! We love you very much! I heart you more.
After opening some presents and a wonderful roast beef dinner of Jen's choice, we enjoyed one of our family's favorite desserts. Jen requested these as well and I thought I would show her just how I make them so she can try her hand at them someday. You see, Jen spent so much time dancing, she didn't join me in the kitchen very often. But it's not too late!! Pay attention baby girl....
Melt one cup of butter (the real deal) and mix it with one cup of brown sugar and two cups of flour. Press mixture into a 10 x 12 (or there abouts) baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.
While that is baking, melt a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips with two tablespoons of Crisco in a double boiler.
When you take the bottom layer out of the oven it will be slightly bubbly.
Have your melted chocolate and about one cup of chopped walnuts ready. Besure to dry off the bottom of the double boiler so water does not drip on the bottom layer ....
... as you pour the chocolate over it.
Using a rubber or silicone spatula, gently spread the chocolate to cover the entire sheet. NOW before they cool, score the bars with a sharp knife. Trust me, you do not want to skip this step.
Sprinkle with nuts and chill for a few hours.
Jen, put those back -I said a few hours - not a few minutes.
When thoroughly cool, cut apart on the scored lines and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Or lock in a vault so they don't call your name until it is time to serve them. Trust me about that part too! YUUMO! ENJOY!
I recently received several requests for the recipe for the pantry cakes you have seen in my kitchen photos. I usually prefer to answer requests individually, but because these are so popular right now, I decided to share my recipe here. I can't take credit for it however. My Webshots buddy Barb - Starlove 5- shared this with me well over a year ago. Take a moment and check Barb's albums. She is a very talented gal and she was doing T2T projects long before it was so common. You should see the closet she opened up and all by herself she made into a colonial buttery/pantry! That is where I first saw her pantry cakes.
Pantry cakes - 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, and 1 cup used still wet coffee grounds. You probably want to I double this so you can make a few at once. (As you are saving your coffee grounds, it's a good idea to freeze them until you have enough. They can turn moldy otherwise.) Mix the three ingredients together. Pick your mold. It has to be heat proof. I sprayed mine with Pam. Grab some dough and press firmly into the bottom (which becomes the top) and sides of mold. I used some old yellow ware molds and tart pans. Now here it is a great trick. Crush aluminum foil and use as a filler inside. Then, cover the aluminum with a layer of the dough. Think of the foil as the filling you don't want to show. Bake on low (200 degrees) in the oven until dry several hours. I baked mine and when the bottom looked dry and I could see they were shrinking away from the sides of the mold, I inverted them on the cookie sheet, removed the mold and put them back in the oven for a few more hours. When it's dry, rub spices all over it. I then spray mine with a water based acrylic spray in a matter finish to seal the spices in and to give it a darker look. I wrapped mine in tea-stained cheesecloth. Some people make a fake frosting made from glue and white paint and drizzle over the top to make them look like real cakes. I have not done this. If you decide to make these, please post a picture and let me know!
After some great spring weather, the rain and cool temps have returned so I am going to curl up with some spiced chai tea and some of my magazines and pictures books and relax a bit. What are you doing for the rest of your weekend? Be sure to leave me a commnet and let me know! And a big thank you to everyone for all the kind comments on my last post. I so appreciate them.
Until Next Time - Hugs, Linda
PS I didn't forget I promised to share nursery pictures with you. I'll do that later in the week.